Posts Tagged “mature age workers”

18th September 2017 at 16:20

Offering apprenticeships to older learners is ‘robbing kids of their future’, says Charlie Mullins, of Pimlico Plumbers
As someone who has campaigned for apprenticeships for my whole working life, I can’t get over our minister of state for apprenticeships and skills, Anne Milton, telling the House of Commons that they should be available to everybody “whatever their background and age”.
It has always been my view that apprenticeships are there to give our youngsters greater opportunities in life, but encouraging over-60s to take on apprenticeships is quite clearly robbing kids of their future.
I’m all for the older worker and I love having a mix of ages in the workplace. We can always learn from experience, but ultimately you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

Encouraging over-60s to start the same course as teenagers is a step backwards. It is both impractical and insulting. If we start handing these precious opportunities out to over-60s, the meaning of “apprenticeship” will change entirely. Practically speaking, in my industry how are these senior trade apprentices going to learn all the tricks of the trade when they aren’t able to lug around heavy materials or stand all day on a site?
Those of us who have completed an apprenticeship with a lot of hard graft will know that they’re nothing like we see on TV. We’ve got to stop confusing the term “apprenticeship”. It’s yet another case of common sense being thrown out of the window.

I can honestly say that I will never take on an apprentice who isn’t young, ripe and ready. We need to save these opportunities for the kids of tomorrow, not waste them on the fogies.
I’ve said from day one that apprenticeships are the way we can reduce crime levels and help to solve the skills gap. Apprenticeships are for youngsters and as soon as we start giving them to older people, they won’t want to do it. Fact. It is our duty to preserve apprenticeships as being a trendy route through life.
‘Don’t waste apprenticeships on the fogies’
We have around 300 apprenticeship applications every month at Pimlico Plumbers, and we’ve got many who make a massive difference to the business. We’ve come a long way since apprenticeships were a second-rate option, and with university applications down this year I was starting to think we were making real progress. We can’t let this set us back and put youngsters off.
Don’t get me wrong, I started my career as an apprentice, and I owe my success to the fact that I was able to learn a trade in this way. I am a big believer in retraining and supporting older workers, but we’ve got to call it a “senior training scheme”, not an apprenticeship.

I’m not saying that older workers are past their sell-by date – far from it. They can bring real credibility to a business and are respected by both colleagues and customers, due to their experience. We’ve had many brilliant older workers in separate roles at Pimlico Plumbers over the years, including van washer Buster Martin, and my current PA Mario, who’s in his seventies. It should be a standard thing in businesses to have young, enthusiastic apprentices who are learning both traditional and new ways of working and older, equally enthusiastic workers who are happy to share their experience and have their ears bent by younger colleagues.
I’m a proud supporter of protecting apprenticeships and getting youngsters motivated to learn and work. In fact, I believe the term “apprentice” is so vitally important to young people today that it should be trademarked, and only used in the proper way. We can’t let it be thrown around and run the risk of putting youngsters off what is a genuine, financially rewarding career option.

I’ve reached out to Anne Milton for a meeting and I’m pleased to say we’ll be looking to get a date in the diary soon. She’s got a lot on her plate, with being committed to reaching 3 million new apprenticeship starts in England by 2020 – but these need to be, what I call, “true apprentices” taking on these apprenticeships. Anne does some great work with encouraging women on the tools too, but I really think I can offer her some insight on apprenticeships, seeing as it is at the core of my business.
Yes, let’s champion retraining older workers and train them on senior training schemes, but we can’t run the risk of putting teenagers off apprenticeships because we’ve let the over-60s join their course.

Charlie Mullins is managing director and founder of Pimlico Plumbers



Monday, 16th January 2017



Study Highlights Cost of Ignoring Older Workers

Australian employers are failing to support and engage older workers which is costing them, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of South Australia and the University of Melbourne surveyed 666 Australian workers between the ages of 45 and 75 over a three-year period about their work experiences.

They found that employers who addressed and invested in older workers reaped significant benefits including a committed, stable and engaged workforce, however many organisations were “far from up to the challenge” and could face problems as the workforce ages and people retire later in life.

Lead researcher, Professor Carol Kulik, a research professor in human resource management at the University of South Australia’s centre for workplace excellence, said age stereotypes were “notoriously persistent” in organisations.

“Mature-age employees [are] commonly perceived to be less productive than their younger counterparts, lacking initiative, disinterested in learning or developing, and resistant to change,” Kulik said.

“Mature-age employees are aware of these age stereotypes and worry that they may inadvertently confirm them. The resulting stereotype threat demotivates mature-age workers and lowers their engagement.

“Our research shows that employers who address older workers’ concerns while also investing in training actually reap significant benefits including a committed, stable and engaged workforce.

“Unfortunately, organisations have been slow to adopt mature-age practices, even though our research shows them to be highly effective in reducing stereotype threat and increasing job engagement among older workers.”

Mature-age workers currently account for 40 per cent of the total Australian workforce and according to latest Australian Bureau of Statistics figures more than four million Australian workers are aged 45 years or older.

Moreover from 1 July, the pension age is set to rise by six months every two years, climbing to 67 by 2023. The government proposes to continue this rate of increase until the qualifying age reaches age 70 on 1 July 2035.

With an increasingly ageing workforce, this latest study Engage Me: The Mature-Age Worker and Stereotype Threat, found it was essential for Australian employers to keep older workers engaged and harness the power of their older workers in order to boost the economy.

Researchers found mature-age workers reported lower stereotype threat and higher engagement when employers had high-performance practices that focused on employee training, rewards, and participation, or had adopted mature-age practices that focused on age-specific training, job design and career-management opportunities.

The high-performance and mature-age practices had independent effects, so workers were most engaged when their organisations invested in both types of practices.

The practices were especially important when mature-age workers reported to young managers, were surrounded by young co-workers or worked in manual occupations where age-related physical declines could be visible.

“Employers and managers need to be aware of the unintended signals that environmental cues send to mature-age workers,” Kulik said.

“Policies crafted to recognise and encourage mature-age workers send consistent, durable signals that lessen those workers’ concerns about negative managerial attitudes and increase their focus on their work.

“Organisations can try to eliminate age stereotypes, but managerial attitudes are stubbornly resistant to change so focusing on management practices may have more immediate – and more enduring – effects on mature-age worker engagement.

“Organisations will enjoy the highest levels of engagement from their mature-age workers when they add age-specific practices to their management practices including training designed to upgrade mature-age worker skills, opportunities to redesign jobs to accommodate mature-age worker needs, and phased retirement programs that allow mature-age workers to ease into retirement.”

The video below outlines the findings:


Wendy Williams |  Journalist |  @ProBonoNews

Wendy Williams is a journalist specialising in the Not for Profit sector.

Employers have been encouraged to consider older job candidates, after an 89-year-old man in the UK who claimed he was “dying from boredom” successfully found a job.

The Guardian reports Joe Bartley, an elderly resident of Devon, England, posted a job advert in the local newspaper last month seeking 20 hours of work a week.

“Senior citizen 89 seeks employment in Paignton area. 20hrs+ per week. Still able to clean, light gardening, DIY and anything. I have references. Old soldier, airborne forces. Save me from dying of boredom!” Bartley wrote.

Read more: One in four older Australians experience age discrimination at work: Study

Just two days after The Guardian’s article, Bartley received two offers of part-time work and has accepted a hospitality role with a local family-run café.

The café’s owner Sarah Martin told the Guardian, “no matter what your age or your background, you deserve a chance”.

“A lot of people who come here don’t just come for coffee, they come for a chat, so Joe is perfect,” Martin told The Guardian.

“How often do you get an 89-year-old person approaching you and saying he wants to work? Usually, we have to go out and find people, and when we get them, sometimes they don’t even want to work.”

Bartley also received a job offer from a bakery in a nearby town, but reportedly turned it down, as he could not easily travel to the business.

Psychologist Eve Ash believes businesses everywhere should consider hiring older workers, saying many of them a “defying expectations”.

“We typically don’t associate working with older people, we typically associate them with sitting around and taking it easy,” Ash says.

“We need to see fewer age judgements. There’s a perception once you hit 70, it’s time on from then on.”

“A whole new workforce”

Ash believes a whole new workforce exists in people over the age of 70, with older workers having “a different type of determination and stamina”. Ash’s own father still works as a land surveyor at the age of 92, with no plans to retire until he hits 100.

Some concessions do need to be made when considering older workers, Ash says, as “40 hour, nine to five jobs” are generally not suitable.

“At any age over 70 there are certain things need to be tested, like driving skills. Older workers are also more suited to shorter weeks and irregular working hours,” Ash says.

“There’s a wide range of things older people could be doing, like customer service or minding things.”

“We need to remove these concepts of age [limiting] employability potential.”

Ash says more evidence is needed to see exactly what sort of jobs are suitable for older workers, but firmly believes they are more likely to “have the time and the care to do things”.

“We might discover they have amazing positive mood characteristics, and in the workplace, this is extremely important,” she says.

It was not reported how many hours Bartley would be working at the café, but on Sundays, he will catch a lift with his boss to work, while catching the bus the rest of the time.

“We think about these things all the time. We are never going to be rich, but we like to give something back, so when we saw the advert there was no question – the minute we saw it we knew we’d give him a job,” Martin told The Guardian.

Source: Startupsmart

AGEISM: A recent survey of job seekers highlighted age as a barrier in the global workplace.
AGEISM: A recent survey of job seekers highlighted age as a barrier in the global workplace.

AGE is one of the largest barriers to career development, according to new research from workplace solutions experts ManpowerGroup Solutions.

The survey polled 4500 global job seekers from influential employment markets, including Australia, to explore their attitudes to job search and career progression.

The study found Australians are more likely than American and British candidates to cite ageism as one of the top challenges they face in making career decisions – with 37% of Australian respondents citing ageism as a key barrier to overcome.

General manager at ManpowerGroup Solutions, Australia and New Zealand, Sue Howse, said the survey highlighted age as a barrier in the global workplace.

“Despite this perception, we know that employers who embrace candidates across a broad age spectrum, will benefit and are likely to create a competitive advantage in terms of addressing skills shortages,” Ms Howse said.

She said very few big businesses in Australia are capitalising on the availability of older workers, despite the clear anecdotal evidence of benefits they bring to the workplace.

“We know there are a number of ‘un-retirees’ or ‘boomerang workers’ – individuals who come out of retirement or return to work for a previous employer – who could currently fill open positions,” she said.

“In this context, embracing generational diversity to overcome talent shortages makes a lot of sense.

“It’s not just about agreeing to hire older workers either. Employers need to be cognisant of intergenerational differences and accommodate work preferences of different age groups.

“For those who are willing to make the necessary adjustments at an organisational level, we know there will be a number of positive flow-on effects – from addressing skills shortages to creating diverse workplace cultures.”

With a rapidly aging population and over 65s projected to increase in numbers from 3.5 million to 5.8 million over the next 15 years, the findings of the report also suggest that helping businesses to recruit an older workforce is an economic necessity.

The research also follows a recent report suggesting an older workforce could deliver gains of $78 billion to the Australian economy through increased GDP.

Source:  Chinchilla News

competitionBy Alex Fradera

Places of work have become fairer thanks to their embrace of meritocracy: the idea that the best person for the job is the right person for the job. Formal assessment processes, for example, help ensure that interviews are granted on merit, rather than allocating them based on which resumes remind the hiring manager of a younger version of themselves. One consequence of meritocracy is the replacement of seniority-based promotion – you get a better position when “it’s your time” – with one based on ability, a development that means younger people with the appropriate skills can leapfrog older colleagues and end up managing them. Unfortunately, according to new research in the Journal of Organizational Behavior, this can have nasty repercussions.

Florian Kunze and Jochen Menges surveyed employees at 61 German companies, based primarily in the service industry, but also finance, manufacturing, and trade. Nearly 8000 participants described their age difference in relation to their managers, and a subset reported their experience of various negative emotions over the last six months. Managers tended to be older than those they managed, but on average a quarter of relationships did involve younger managers. Crucially, in companies where the size of the age gap was larger between younger managers and older subordinates, employees tended to report more negative emotions, such as anger or fear, experienced over the last six months.

Why would this be? Consider how the older subordinates might feel. We tend to measure our life progress by using our peers as a benchmark, particularly those in our age cohort, who may provoke a flush of envy if they rise far past us. But more brutal yet is when those who should be behind us pull ahead, rubbing our faces in our own inability to keep pace. And when such a person is managing you, it’s hard to avoid this.

More broadly, being under the supervision of someone younger than us is a simple status incongruence, like being lectured on your dress sense by your precocious 8-year-old nephew. This is an engine for resentment-based negative emotions. Such emotions, Kunze and Menges suggest, can then reverberate through the wider organisation, especially – and as established by diversity research – because employees will typically pay more attention to what happens to colleagues who tend to stand out, or in this case, to relationships that deviate from the norm.

Kunze and Menges also asked the leadership of each company to report their recent financial performance, as well as measures of productivity and efficiency. After controlling for company size and efficiency, they found that companies experiencing more negative emotions showed worse performance on all counts. More youthful managers of older subordinates, therefore, contribute to worse company performance through the negative emotions their existence encourages, presumably through sapping morale and enthusiasm for collective effort in the face of so much frustration.

The data revealed a buffer against this harmful outcome, but it’s a bitter pill to ask anyone to swallow: when employees reported that suppressing their emotions was the norm in their organisation, age differentials didn’t lead to more negative emotions in the wider organisation. The researchers reasoned that when emotions are unexpressed, there is no signal to the rest of the workforce that something is up, so they can go about their days in blissful ignorance. But this isn’t to solve the problem, but to distil it into a smaller but more concentrated form, as long-term emotion suppression can lead to depression, damaged health, and impaired cognitive performance, a cruel fate to which to consign these older workers.

But companies shouldn’t “revert to the old workplace with traditional age structures”, say Kunze and Menges, because their research says nothing about the overall benefits of merit-based promotion. However, they do believe the negative repercussions that they’ve revealed should be addressed. One suggestion is to help older subordinates make sense of their feelings and explore whether they can come to terms with them rather than simply suppress them. Another suggestion, which I warmly advocate, is to address the root causes, changing the culture around “career time tables” and addressing issues of hierarchy and voice, so that old-timers, whether managers or not, can share their accrued wisdom and fully participate in the organisations to which they have given for so long.

 

 

Our Assumptions About Old and Young Workers Are Wrong

November 14, 2016

It is almost second nature to create stereotypes of people based on age. If someone is in their twenties then they must be technologically adept, obsessed with keeping fit, prepared to change jobs frequently whilst obviously searching for meaningful work. Those in their sixties and seventies must be less interested in work and are probably exhausted and anticipating the leisure time offered by a long retirement.

These are seductive and easy to understand behavioural labels. But are these assumptions either real or helpful? Might they obscure even more important similarities?

We believe this is a crucial question to ask right now as working lives – shaped by technological innovations and extended by growing longevity – are undergoing profound transformations. To understand how people are responding to this transformation in their working lives, we developed a survey completed by more than 10,000 people from across the world aged 24 to 80.

We found far fewer differences between the age groups than we might have imagined. In fact, many of the traits and desires commonly attributed to younger people are shared by the whole workforce. Why might this be the case?

One reason is that we are simply living longer. This means we’re also working longer, and working differently.

For our recent book The 100 Year Life we calculated how long people will work. Whilst we cannot be precise, it is clear that in order to finance retirement many people currently in their fifties will work into their seventies; whilst those in their twenties could well be working into their eighties. That means that inevitably people of very different ages are increasingly working together.

This long working life, coupled with profound technological changes, dismantles the traditional three-stage life of full-time education, full-time work, and full-time retirement. In its place is coming – for all employees regardless of their age – a multi-stage life that blends education, exploration, and learning, as well as corporate jobs, freelance gigs, and time spent out of the workforce. Inevitably the variety of these stages and their possible sequencing will result in both greater variety within age cohorts, whilst also providing opportunities for different ages to engage in similar activities. In other words, work activities will become increasingly “age agnostic” and these age stereotypes will look increasingly outdated.

Right now people of every age are becoming increasingly aware of the transformation of their working life. They are reinvesting in their skills, looking after their health and thinking about options, transitions and career switches that weren’t a reality for previous generations. Viewed in this light, there is less discontinuity between different ages – and instead a shared, and growing interest in the tools to cope with a longer working life in an age of profound technological disruption.

Our survey highlighted these commonalities. While there may be some selection bias — the 10,000 people who completed our survey online are already interested in the topic of life and work changes — their experiences and attitudes highlight how misleading simple age related stereotypes can be. Consider six fairly common age-based assumptions: the young invest most in new skills, they are most positive and excited about their work, and they work hardest to keep fit; the old are more exhausted, keen to slow down, and less likely to explore. The people in our study overturned these stereotypes.

  1. It is not just the young who are investing in new skills. We asked people whether they felt their skills and knowledge had plateaued, and whether they had recently made an investment in their skills. After the age of 30 many people are concerned about plateauing skills. Indeed there is no difference between those in their 30s, 40s or 60s – almost two-thirds worried that their skills and knowledge were not keeping up with changing work demands. What is fascinating is how many people were countering this by actively investing in their skills. Certainly a higher proportion of those aged 18-30 (91%) and 31-45 (72%) felt they were investing in new skills but after the age of 45 almost 60% of all ages said they were actively investing. In other words, the majority of people keep maintaining skills and this does not significantly decline with age.
  1. It is not just the young who are positive and excited by their work. This is a crucial attitude as working lives elongate. If indeed being positive and excited about work declines sharply with age, then long working lives will become a terrible burden for the older. What was striking was that whatever their age, those feeling positive about their work was a constant at just over 50%. Just as striking is the proportion of people of all ages who don’t feel positive about their work.
  1. Older people are working harder to keep fit. We know that vitality is central to a long productive life and it is easy to imagine that it’s only the young who really care about their fitness. Yet we discovered that it is the older who are working hardest to try to keep fit. About half of those under 45 actively try to keep fit, rising continuously across the ages with a peak of 71% for those aged over 70.
  1. Older people are not more exhausted. One of the reasons corporations often prefer the young to the old is the assumption that with age comes exhaustion at work and therefore a lowering of productivity. We found no evidence of this age related exhaustion. In fact, more people under the age of 45 (43%) said they were exhausted than those over 45 (35%) – the least exhausted are those over 60.
  1. Older people don’t want to slow down. The stereotype is that as people age they want to slow down and are looking forward to retiring. We found this not to be the case. More than half of those aged 46 to 60 want to slow down, whilst only 39% of the people over 60 and less than 20% of the people over 70 say they want to slow down.
  1. Exploring is not just for the young. When you think about “gap years” you probably think about 20-year-olds taking time out after full-time education. But why assume that it is only the young who want to take time out to explore and learn more about themselves and their world? Crucially, we found no significant age difference in people’s excitement about exploring their options.

The six assumptions we have explored here are probably just aspects of a much bigger tapestry of assumptions about the young and old that are spurious, wrong, even damaging. We use the word damaging with care. When corporations believe that older workers invest less in their knowledge, are less excited by their work and exploring their world, and are on a path to physical decline and exhaustion, they make the wrong decisions about whom to select, promote and develop, and whom to retire.

There are undoubtedly some differences across the age groups that are important in the workplace. However, the over-simplicity of age and generational labels decreases our understanding of individuality; it masks the commonality of the task we are all facing as we strive to achieve a productive and enriching longer working career; and is in deep conflict with the imperative to develop age-agnostic working practices.

As every one of us is faced with living and working longer it is absolutely crucial that, whatever our age, we face up to and question unfounded assumptions and stereotypes about ourselves and about others. Only then can we create workplaces where people are accepted for themselves.


Lynda Gratton is Professor of Management Practice at the London Business School where she teaches an elective on the Future of Work and directs an executive program on Human Resource Strategy. Lynda is a fellow of the World Economic Forum, is ranked by Business Thinkers in the top 15 in the world, and was named the best teacher at London Business School in 2015. Her most recent book is The 100 Year Life: Living and Working in an Age of Longevity, co-authored with Andrew Scott.


Andrew Scott is Professor of Economics at London Business School and a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford University and the Centre for Economic Policy Research. He has served as an advisor on macroeconomics to a range of governments and central banks and was Non-Executive Director on the UK’s Financial Services Authority. He is the co-author, with Linda Scott, of The 100-Year Life: Living and working in an age of longevity.

People Over 40 Should Only Work 3 Days A Week, Experts Claim

If you are over 40 and thinking that your ability to focus and remember facts is deteriorating, your work could actually be to blame.

Recent research by the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research found that, whilst working up to 30 hours a week is good for cognitive function in the over 40s, any more than that causes performance to deteriorate.

In fact, those who worked 55 hours a week or more showed worse cognitive impairment than those who were retired or unemployed and didn’t work at all.

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The study looked at 3500 women and 3000 men aged 40 and over, and made them complete cognitive function tests whilst their performance at work was monitored.

Their ability to read words aloud, recite lists of numbers and match letters and numbers in speed trials was monitored throughout the test, known as the Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia survey (Hilda). The author of the test, Professor Colin McKenzie, said that both ‘thinking’ and ‘knowing’ were important indicators. Reading tests is the ‘knowing’ part of ability, whilst ‘thinking’ captures memory, abstract and executive reasoning.

desk 2

Whilst some intellectual stimulation is thought to be good to retain cognitive function in later life, with brain puzzles such as Sudoku and crosswords credited with sustaining brain power in older people, excessive stimulation works the other way.

Professor McKenzie told The Times that many countries are aiming to raise the retirement age, forcing people to work for longer as they will be unable to claim benefits until later. He believes that the degree of work may have an important bearing on this.

The degree of intellectual stimulation may depend on working hours. Work can be a double edged sword, in that it can stimulate brain activity, but at the same time working long hours can cause fatigue and stress, which potentially damage cognitive functions.

He believes that part time work may be beneficial in retaining brain function in middle aged and older people. Should those who can afford to do so reduce their hours, then? And is the type of work you do a factor?

You would think that a job you love which is less stressful would be less damaging on your stress and fatigue levels. The Hilda survey doesn’t look at the type of work and how that affects results, so this is something to bear in mind.

Young business woman relaxing on a floor. [url=http://www.istockphoto.com/search/lightbox/9786622][img]http://dl.dropbox.com/u/40117171/business.jpg[/img][/url]

 

 

Professor McKenzie reasons, “It’s very difficult to identify the causal effects of the type of work on cognitive functions. People may be selected into certain occupations according to their cognitive abilities.” Certainly, high stress factor jobs with long hours in competitive, demanding fields will play havoc with a person’s health in general.

As most people have to go on working after 40, or even return to work after a break to have a family or for other personal reasons, taking care of your health, maximizing your down time and taking restful holidays becomes more important. Professor McKenzie says that, “Working full time – over 40 hours a week –  is still better than no work in terms of maintaining cognitive function, but it is not maximizing the potential effects of work.”

 

A balance seems to be needed, then, especially as the government are planning to bring in full time work requirements until that age of 67.

What do you think? Do you feel that a reduction in hours would be beneficial?

David Penberthy

October 1, 2016

A MATE of mine who rightly describes himself as a grumpy old man told me a  great grumpy old man joke the other day. It involved a man in his late 50s, recently retrenched, who had typed up a CV for the first time in decades and was being interviewed by a 20-something HR woman at a job placement firm about his qualities as an employee.
“Do you think that you have any weaknesses?” she asked, routinely.
“Probably honesty,” he said.
“I don’t think honesty is a weakness,” she said.
“I don’t give a f–k what you think,” he replied.
Many a true word is said in jest. I like this joke because it goes to the heart of the perception that older workers — or in this bloke’s case, non-workers — are irascible and stuck in their ways. Also, older workers are seen as providing limited return on investment, to use that cliched management term.
Why bother hiring a crotchety know-it-all who might give you a decade of productivity, when you could stump for a bright young thing to shape in your image, and hopefully hold on to for years?
Our economy is at a crossroads, shifting from its reliance on manu-facturing and mining to the new service and data-driven industries.
There has never been a more exciting time to be an Australian, our Prime Minister says.
For many people, most of them men aged in their 50s and early 60s, there has never been a more unnerving time to be an Australian — because so many people being squeezed out of jobs are older men.

‘So much of the discussion around unemployment has focused on the young.’

Men who, if sacked, will never work again. The figures are borne out by the depressing statistic that anyone who is retrenched over the age of 55 will spend at least twice as long on the dole as a person under that age. And a 2014 study by the National Seniors Productive Ageing Centre revealed that 96 per cent of people aged 55 to 59 who were retrenched wound up retiring, even though many were desperate to work again.
So much of the discussion around unemployment has focused on the young. There have been calls to raise the Newstart allowance from $264 a week to $317, a $53-a-week increase that would cost the Budget $7.7 billion.
It’s been pushed by the Australian Council of Social Service and the Australian Industry Group fearing the current rate is so low that people cannot present themselves properly or travel to look for jobs. I have no way of knowing whether the public agrees with the ACOSS and AIG position. My hunch is that many would be suspicious of the proposed rise, fearing that young people who could be rightly described as bludgers would treat it as their personal payday.
The public view would be different, however, if you asked people to compare the indolent 20-somethings who had never looked for work in his life, and the middle-aged man who had done nothing but work, and who found out last Monday his company was shifting operations to Beijing or Bangalore.
The Federal Government’s logic in denying calls for a Newstart increase is that it risks turning the welfare safety net into a hammock. I agree with that view for younger workers with no dependants, and no interest in working. I am not sure if it is fair for older people who have mortgages, debts, children — and a burning desire to work again.

The Federal Government’s logic in denying calls for a Newstart increase is that it risks turning the welfare safety net into a hammock.
I am not suggesting that every unemployed young person doesn’t want to work. There are some suburbs in Australia where the old blue-collar jobs have gone forever.
But there are plenty of younger people who would not work in an iron lung. Surely the best way to get them off their behinds is with less carrot, and more stick.
One of the more illuminating moments of my journalistic career came about 10 years ago when I was asked to go from editing newspapers to running a news website. You could not have found a team more adept to the digital age, be it writing HTML code, or generating new audiences via social media channels.
Their only weakness, as purported journalists, was that many of them didn’t know what The Dismissal was, how Harold Holt disappeared, or who the hell Harold Holt even was. We had replaced people who were walking encyclopedias with the Wikipedia generation. As a community, we do that every time we sort through the CVs on the basis of age, not to forget perceived grumpiness.

Source: Sun Herald

By Craig Allen

Proposals to further lift the pension age have “terrified” some mature-aged jobseekers, who said they were already struggling to compete for work with candidates decades their junior.

The Federal Government has flagged plans to reintroduce legislation to raise the pension age from the current 65 years and six months, to age 70, by 2035.

But with the pressure on workers to stay in paid employment longer, some have called for bosses to reform their attitudes and find longer-term career paths for their employees.

The National Willing to Work report, recently released by the Australian Human Rights Commission, exposed widespread discrimination against older workers, and the myths that they were “forgetful, inflexible”, and had trouble learning new skills.

Last month former Human Rights Commissioner Susan Ryan told the National Press Club that attitudes must change because there were huge economic benefits in employing mature aged workers.

“The business case for employing older workers is undeniable, yet only relatively few businesses are doing it,” Ms Ryan said.

The report found one in 10 business have a maximum age above which they will not recruit — and the average age was 50.

But it was not just private enterprise at fault, with the Council on the Ageing (COTA) claiming the Federal Government’s recruitment practices, which required candidates to disclose their age, only reinforced the problem.

The report also found:
Individuals who were subject to negative assumptions, stereotypes and discrimination could experience stress, and a decline in physical and mental health;
That some government policies and the operation of some government programs were “not achieving their intended objectives and may be serving as a disincentive to workforce participation”;
A 7 per cent increase in mature-age labour force participation would raise gross domestic product in 2022 by approximately $25 billion;
Employment discrimination against people with disability was “ongoing and systemic”.
COTA ACT executive director Jenny Mobbs said older candidates were too often missing out on jobs.

“The selection panels in the public service can be quite a young group of people, and they don’t want their mum or their dad walking in and taking over in the workforce,” Ms Mobbs said.

“It’s a really complex issue, certainly one where the discrimination’s certainly there.

“If a 35-year-old applies for a job, and a 60-year-old applies for the job, the 35-year-old, particularly in Canberra, will get the job.

“Younger people don’t like to work with older people who’ve got much more experience because they feel threatened.”

Seminars helping older Australians re-enter the workforce

COTA ACT has been holding seminars for older workers trying to re-enter the workforce, including training on how to get interviews and how to compete with much younger candidates.

Participant Tanya Astle said it was common for mature-aged jobseekers to be overwhelmed by the challenges of finding work.

“There’s a lot of frustration in the group with not being able to get work … but what we’ve found in the group that it’s really good to get together to support each other and to vent,” Ms Astle said.

“A lot of us have been out of work because of parenting … and the workforce has zoomed right past us.”
Ms Astle has recently retrained, but admitted being daunted at the prospect of having to start a new career at her age.

“Honestly, it is terrifying. Yes, for me it’s quite nerve-wracking,” she said.

Former senior executive Gloria Loewe, 56, said she had lost track of the numbers of knock-backs she has had in trying to find work.

“I stopped counting … it’s depressing if you start counting,” Ms Loewe said.

And she echoed a similar sentiment of other mature aged workers: that working is about self satisfaction rather than ruthless ambition.

“It’s not so much to make money, or have a position — I already did that,” Ms Loewe said.

“It’s just to keep active, and mainly to be useful to somebody or to yourself, or to society. I feel that I still have a lot to offer.”
Key recommendations from the Human Rights Commission’s Willing to Work report included creating a Minister for Longevity, government targets for older worker recruitment, and better education to dispel myths and stereotypes about older employees.

If Australia increased the number of older workers it could return $78 billion a year to the economy.

Australia is lagging while New Zealand soars ahead in attracting and retaining older employees in the workforce, costing an estimated $72 billion a year.

According to the PwC Golden Age Index, if Australia’s employment rates for workers aged more than 55 years old were increased to Swedish levels the nation’s gross domestic product could be about 4.7 per cent higher, equivalent to about $78 billion annually.

The biggest potential impact on GDP comes from those in the 55‑64 years old age group.

The report, which relies on the most recent data from 2014, found Iceland was ranked as the best OECD nation when it comes to keeping older workers employed, for the fourth consecutive time since 2003.

However, New Zealand has seen a rapid transformation, moving from ninth place in 2003 to second in 2014.

Israel, Germany and New Zealand saw the biggest improvement in the rankings between 2003 and 2014.
Australia, which was ranked 20th in 2003 has moved to 16th place in 2014, dropping back on the 2013 ranking of 15th.

Australia was ranked sixth when it came to the proportion of older workers in part-time employment.

But when it came to full-time earnings of 55-64 year-olds relative to 25-54 year-olds Australia performs relatively poorly, falling into the lowest third of countries.

PwC national economics and policy consulting partner Jeremy Thorpe said Australia had been slower than it needed to be to act on encouraging older workers to remain in the labour force.

He said it would take at least 10 years for the $78 billion of extra GDP to come to fruition.

“It’s not a figure we’d be able to achieve tomorrow because we’d have to raise our participation,” he said.

“Once we transition and improve that’s the outcome we could achieve. I don’t think we can turn the tap tomorrow. It’s at least a 10-year exercise. Unless you’re continually on a path of improvement, I don’t think any of this comes quickly. ”

Mr Thorpe said that, although politically-sensitive, Australia had been “slower than it needed to” in pushing the eligibility age out for the aged pension.

“Where we haven’t been proactive is around improving access to employment,” he said.

“From a government perspective there have been ‘toes in the water’ around these schemes. And industry need to make the change as well and understand they will suffer skills shortages as the population changes and it will be the one suffering if nothing changes.”

Last year’s intergenerational report predicts will be 2.7 people aged between 15 and 64 for every person aged 65 and over in 2055, compared with 4.5 at present and 7.3 in 1975.

Because of this, the number of workers over the age of 65 years will rise to 17.3 per cent, up from 12.9 per cent today.

With age and service pension, costs are expected to stabilise from 2.9 per cent of gross domestic product in 2014-2015 to 2.7 per cent in 2054-55

Mr Thorpe said when you looked at New Zealand it was because the country had looked at encouraging delaying retirement, improving employability of older workers and reducing barriers to employment.

The PwC report found the OECD could add about $2.6 trillion to its total GDP if economies with a lower full–time equivalent employment rate among people aged over 55 than Sweden increased their older worker employment rates to levels in Sweden, which is the best-performing EU country in the index.

When it came to Pacific countries, Australia performs poorly, ranking last out of New Zealand, the US, Korea, Japan and Canada.

Last week a report analysing Centrelink data by the University of Melbourne found since the pension age was raised to 65 women have worked for longer rather than trying to find other sources of welfare like the dole or disability pension.

There is a positive correlation with the PwC Young Workers Index, which suggests that the employment of older workers does not crowd out youth employment at the economy-wide level.

The report called on the federal government to introduce policy measures to encourage or facilitate later retirement, improve employability and reduce employment barriers.

“Policies could include pension reform and financial incentives to encourage working beyond national retirement ages, providing training throughout people’s working lives, and tightening regulation around labour market discrimination against older workers,” the report said.

Source: Australian Financial Review