Posts Tagged “mature age”

U.S. employers and policymakers can learn from Japan, Germany and Singapore

Have you ever heard the term “super-aged country?” I hadn’t until I read the just-released Gerontological Society of America (GSA) report, Longevity Economics: Leveraging the Advantages of an Aging Society. The term means that more than one in five people in a country is 65 or older. Japan and Germany are super-aged; by 2030, United Kingdom, France and Singapore will be. So will the United States, raising the question: Why aren’t U.S. employers and the U.S. government adapting policies so more Americans 65 and older can keep working if they’re healthy and interested?

Our businesses and policymakers, it turns out, might do well to follow the lead of super-aged Japan and Germany and soon-to-be super-aged Singapore, based on my reading of the report from GSA and Bank of America Merrill Lynch. The study about what the GSA calls “this longevity era” was produced by a workgroup chaired by Peter Cappelli, director of the Center for Human Resources at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

American employers “haven’t done much of anything to reach out to older workers, let alone accommodate their interests and priorities,” Cappelli told me. “People have to work longer because we’re living longer. So how do we accommodate that?”

Below are a few ways the GSA report says Japan, Germany and Singapore have changed their workforce and governmental policies to keep and attract older workers. “The idea in all these places is to get employers to think about the way to deal with human capital needs,” Cappelli says. A word of warning — one way older people are able to keep working in these countries is by accepting pay cuts.

Japan

The number of employed people age 65 and older in Japan recently hit a record 8.07 million. They now comprise roughly 12 percent of Japan’s workforce, which is a record there, too. And three-quarters of Japanese people aged 60 to 64 are still working (by contrast, only 60 percent of Americans that age are).

One reason many Japanese workers now remain employed past the country’s traditional retirement age of 60 is that the eligibility age to receive a Social Security-like retirement pension from the government is rising. It’s now 62 and will hit 65 in 2025.

Another reason why more people are working longer in Japan: the Japanese government is now requiring companies to employ their workers through age 65 if they want to keep working. The catch is that the older workers must still “retire” at 60; then they return to work under a “continuous employment” policy at a much lower salary. Japanese salaries at age 61 are about one-fourth less than before the worker turned 60, the GSA report notes.

A public-private partnership called the Silver Center Workshops helps retirees find part-time jobs, too. There’s also a catch here, though: the jobs are low-paying — roughly $400 to $500 a month (in U.S. dollars) and in low-skilled areas like housekeeping, park maintenance and bike repair.

“It’s outplacement for older individuals,” says Cappelli. “In Japan, it’s now less about keeping people working at the same companies longer and more about trying to get them into alternate jobs and to do other kinds of things.”

Germany

Germany has also been incentivizing older residents to work longer by pushing back the federal retirement age — it was 65 in 2012 and will be 67 in 2029.

But the country has an intriguing program designed to let people continue working, as well. It’s called “Initiative 50 Plus” and provides training and lifelong learning to older people. Older workers who accept positions with lower salaries get a temporary subsidy for doing so.

“They’re trying to encourage individuals not to retire and to make it attractive to keep working,” says Cappelli.

Singapore

Singapore has been especially proactive towards older workers, but that’s because the country hasn’t had much choice. While only 7 percent of residents were over 65 in 1999, 20 percent will be that old by 2026. So Singapore’s leaders have developed a 70-item initiative to make the country what they call “a nation for all ages.”

Last year, legislation kicked in that “encourages older workers who want to stay employed to do so,” the GSA report says. In Singapore, employers must generally offer re-employment contracts to eligible employees at age 62 and the contracts must be renewable every year until 67. If a company can’t offer a position to an eligible employee, the report notes, it must transfer the obligation to another employer or offer a one-time assistance payment.

But if your company does want to keep you, “everything from the prior job is off the table,” says Cappelli. “Your prior job is finished, whether you were the CEO or an hourly worker. Your old pay doesn’t matter now. Your new rate of pay reflects your real productivity.”

Singapore is effectively telling its older workers, says Cappelli, “You want to keep working? OK, but you can’t just be the boss because you’re older.” And managers, Cappelli says, are being told to “manage these older workers in a different way and be respectful of their experience, but to hold them accountable.”

How well is it working? “The problem with Singapore is you never know,” says Cappelli. “They could tell you it’s working great and you never know for sure.”

Last month, what’s known as a tripartite standard from Singapore’s Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices began encouraging age-inclusive workplace practices, benefiting employees 60 and older. So far, 160 employers have signed on.

Said Singapore’s Second Minister for Manpower, Josephine Teo: “The new standard will support older Singaporeans to work as long as they are willing and able to, in jobs that are safer and smarter in a work environment where they feel valued and where their needs are addressed.”

Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel Human Resources Director New Kheng Tiong, a fan of older workers, just hired Chua Ai Gek, 67, as a bar assistant there. “Mature workers tend to be a bit more loyal and punctual,” he told Channel News Asia.

The United States

The GSA report stopped short of making policy recommendations for the U.S. government or for employers. It did say, however, that Congress should look at the tax law to incentivize older workers to remain employed and that employers should implement “aging-friendly policies.”

The cloud hanging over all this here, of course, is age discrimination by employers. “We’re fighting some headwinds,” says Cappelli. “I don’t know that we’re making a ton of progress.”

He’s right. But that could change if employers and the U.S. government wise up, especially as America becomes super-aged. By 2035, for the first time, there will be more Americans who are 65 and older than ones who are under 18. As the GSA report says: “Demography is not destiny. The way people and countries respond to an aging society will determine the future.”

Here are what the Gerontological Society of America says are the “realities” of an aging society:

Source:nextavenue.org

Carol Kulik, Opinion, The Advertiser
November 24, 2017

 

WHEN Australia’s age pension was introduced in 1909, just 4 per cent of the population lived long enough to claim it.
Now, the average Australian is expected to live 15-20 years beyond the traditional retirement age of 65 — and by 2050, nearly a quarter of our population will be aged 65 and over.
Clearly Australia’s ageing workforce is a reality that we cannot afford to ignore. But what can organisations do in order to benefit from this growing demographic?
For older Australians, the key here is choice. On the one hand, they’re physically capable of working longer, so they could stay in the workforce. On the other hand, they’re tempted by retirement so they can travel, spend quality time with family and friends, or pursue a favourite hobby.
Baby Boomers have an unprecedented option to extend their working careers beyond the traditional retirement age, and being the largest — and wealthiest — older generation ever, their motivations for staying in the labour force are dependent on the quality of support they receive from their manager.

So for organisations, the challenge is to adequately deliver just this.

To help you on your way, here are a few strategic tips for attracting, engaging, and retaining older workers in your organisation:

Plan for older workers to be front and centre
Have you reviewed the age profile of your workforce and your customers? Some industries like aged care and financial services rely heavily on older clients and customers but, as the population ages, older Australians will become a fast-growing segment across all industries.
To engage this growing demographic group, you can position your older workers in visible, frontline roles to connect with similar older customers, suppliers and stakeholders.
This sends a strong signal that your organisation values older people, making the business more attractive to both older customers and job applicants.

Listen up — or miss out
How much do you know about the changing needs of your older workers? If you’re to benefit from their experience, you may need to redesign jobs to match the changing physical and psychological needs of an older workforce.
Simple things, like losing the physical components of the job, or increasing their opportunities to engage with other people, can seem like easy adjustments, but unfortunately many older workers have tried unsuccessfully to negotiate such changes.
The consequence is an unhappy older worker, who, tired of being in a job that provides a poor fit, simply “retires”, only to return to the job market a few weeks or months later, with a different organisation.
Just like that, you’ve lost one of your most valuable resources — and when they exit, their skills and experience also go out the door.

Keep an open mind about who does what
Do you assume that interns are young? Do you think that managers should be older than the people they supervise? Traditional ideas about the right age for the right job are quickly becoming outdated, and organisations need to acknowledge this in order to get the most out of the workforce.
In the case of older workers, many are interested in “encore careers” that enable them to pursue opportunities outside their original career choice.
As an employer, you may be able to leverage this by offering older workers opportunities within your organisation, perhaps rotating across roles and units or retraining for different kinds of work.

And remember, keep an eye out for older jobseekers making a “sea change” in occupation or industry — they can bring transferable skills, such as budgeting or project management, and new perspectives to your organisation.

Carol Kulik is professor of human resource management at the University of South Australia

Half of us will live to 100 that’s why senior workers need a gap year to plan for their retirement
HALF the Aussies born today will live to be 100. So it’s time to reassess how we live healthier and work smarter.
Sue Dunlevy

 

HALF the Aussies born today will live to be 100 and it is time to introduce a senior’s gap year where older workers take a year off work to consider their next 20 years says Aged Care minister Ken Wyatt.
Describing 70 as the new 40, Mr Wyatt is warning Australians they will have to prepare for a future in which they will be healthy enough to work or volunteer well into their eighties.
“More than six million of Australians now aged between 50 and 75 are facing an extended life expectancy,” he told the National Press Club in Canberra.
Researchers at the London Business School had calculated that children born today in the US, Canada, Italy or France had a 50 per cent chance of living to at least 104, and 107 if they came from Japan.
“These projections are the real deal. Therefore, we need to seriously refocus our attention on living better,” he said.

More than six million of Australians now aged between 50 and 75 are facing an extended life expectancy.
This new age could bring us fulfilment and freedom but it has to be managed by a gradual move to part time employment, changing careers, volunteer work or a combination of both.
Too many Australians who retired wished later they had stayed on at work and their employers often found it hard to find a replacement worker with their experience and knowledge, he said.
“For all of these reasons, I personally believe we should consider a “seniors gap year”, made available for employees, in the lead up to the traditional retirement age,” he said.
“Like teenagers have done for decades, as they plan their studies and career paths, this “gap year” could allow older people to map out their future, while maintaining job security,” he said.

 

The question they would consider during this year would be what they do for the next few decades? How will they continue to contribute and harness their knowledge and skills for the benefit of society and the economy?

“Just imagine if, when we reach 60 and we are thinking of retiring, and we are given the opportunity to take 12 months’ leave without pay and go and do the grey nomad travelling, do all the things you wanted to do on your bucket list for 12 months, and then you come back and you say to your employer, I’m back, I’m ready to start working again’ he said.
Mr Wyatt said his idea was not government policy but he spoke of how after he took a redundancy package in his fifties he decided he wanted to re-enter the workforce.
National seniors policy advocate Ian Henschke said it was important for people to consider if they were ready for retirement but “I’m not sure it requires an entire gap year”.
People should experiment with retirement by using their long service leave before they retire to see if they are ready to leave the workforce, he said.
“If you took six months long service leave at half pay that would be sufficient to understand whether playing golf six days a week or doing pottery and art classes was right for you rather than working, he said.
Scott Barklamb, Director of Workplace Relations at the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry said Australia needed creative ideas for a national discussion on retaining more Australians in work, as the Minister has provided today.
“Expanded options for flexibility seem the most productive area to look at, and we should better empower employers and their older employees to work out flexible arrangements that best meet their needs,” he said.
“Just as planning your retirement is important for individuals, succession planning is important for businesses. We would be wary of any provision that introduced greater uncertainty for business or made succession planning even more difficult,” he said.

The minister is also calling for major changes to the way we treat the aged many of whom are lonely and who live in aged care facilities where they receive no visitors at all.
He wants small houses grouped around a central kitchen and living room built to improve housing options for the aged.
“When I talk to people in Aged Care, I find so many who crave simple touch, a hug, the warmth of palms clasped together, or a soothing hand on their shoulder,’ he said.
It was distressing that 40 per cent of people in nursing homes did not receive a single visitor 365 days of the year, he said.

“Our elders should hold a special place in our society — they are not to be sent away or shunned, but remain fundamental to family groups and communities, as wisdom-givers,” Mr Wyatt said.
Older people should be valued for who they are, not just in terms of economics, but for what they have done and continue to do
Mr Wyatt on Wednesday announced a $2.8 million consultation to set out a plan for future investment for My Aged Care, this will be done in close consultation with consumers, service providers and community partners.
The government has recently embarked on a major expansion of home care services that provide help for the elderly in their own homes so they don’t need to move into aged care facilities.

Source:  News Corp Australia Network  October 25, 2017

AM By Brett Worthington

17/10/2017

Australia is at risk of a pension crisis unless employers stop their “discrimination” against older workers, advocates for regional Australia have warned.
The Regional Australia Institute (RAI) has warned the Federal Government’s pension bill would rise from $45 billion to $51 billion within three years, unless efforts were made to help more mature workers gain employment, particularly in regional communities.
Chief executive Jack Archer said continued unemployment of people older than 55 would cut economic growth and put a greater strain on public resources.
“We hear that there is a lot of people who would like to work, who would love to stay in the workforce either part-time or full-time even though they’re in their late 50s, 60s and even into their 70s,” he said.
“But we’re not doing a very good job of giving them the training, giving them the incentives around the pension, and working with employers to stop the discrimination around employing older workers.”

Ageing demographic in regional areas
The RAI has today released a report that outlines the economic benefits of hiring older workers, which it said would help accelerate economic growth in regional communities.
These communities are ageing at faster rates than metropolitan areas.
Mr Archer said the ageing regional demographic was partly the result of people shifting away from cities when they retired.
He said Victor Harbour in South Australia, Port Macquarie-Hastings in NSW, and East Gippsland in Victoria all had at least 20 per cent of the population reliant on the aged pension.
“It basically means you’ve got a lot of talent on the bench, a lot of people who could be involved and contributing who are sitting around homes and wishing they were doing something else,” he said.
“The social benefits of [tackling] this [will be] enormous in these regions where the impact is severe now.”

 

Getting older people into work
The report calls for a variety of approaches to getting more older Australians into work.
“For regions with low participation rates like the Bass Coast in Victoria or the Lockyer Valley in Queensland, the focus will be to increase workforce engagement in general,” the report stated.
“For those with high participation rates but also a high incidence of part-time employment like Augusta-Margaret River WA and Busselton WA, the policy focus will need to be more targeted towards addressing underemployment.”

The report also suggested part-time work could not only keep older people employed for longer, but it could help lure others back into work.
“As Australians approach retirement age, the opportunity for more flexible working arrangements opens up new opportunities for older Australians who want to stay engaged in the workforce, but scale down at the same time,” the report stated.
“For many, the inability to scale down to a part-time role often means having to drop out of the workforce completely.”

No luck after 150 job applications
Wagga Wagga man Peter Sweeney took a voluntary redundancy from the public sector five years ago.
The 66-year-old said when he attempted to return to employment, he was unable to secure an interview, let alone a job.
“Not everybody is ready to lay down and die,” he said.
Mr Sweeney said he applied for at least 150 jobs before he gave up his hunt.
“I had strong analytical skills, excellent communication skills — written and verbal — and investigation skills,” he said.
“I would have said they would have all been very current. I was able to cope with the applications on the internet.
“There is no doubt in my mind that my age was the thing that kept coming up.

Mr Sweeney said he became involved in a men’s shed group, where he discovered other people had been through a similar experience.

He took his superannuation as a pension and was now entitled to receive a partial aged pension.
“People have told me that they don’t like putting older people on because they’re too set in their ways,” he said.
“Their skill levels are out of date, they can’t take instruction from younger people and they’re generally too tired.
“They want young people. They want people they can socialise with, whereas the oldies are interested in different things.
“The ones that do employ seniors do it for that reason — they don’t want to mess around with a lot of people who have got too busy social lives and can’t come to work on Monday.”

Economic benefit from employing older workers
Mr Archer said as the population aged the workforce shrank, and that risked future economic growth.
But he said that could be reversed provided employers embraced an older workforce.
“In some regions we can see an extra $30 to $40 million of annual consumption in the local area as a result of lifting participation of older workers by 2 or 3 per cent,” he said.
“That then flows on to other jobs in the community.
“What that tells us is if you get the right mix of incentives, you can really have a significant impact on local economies.
“[When] those people are earning [an income], their pension bills will either disappear or be much lower and the government will get a benefit from that.”

Alan Williams, 62, is attempting to return to the workforce after nine years of unemployment but says his age appears to be a hindrance.

A leading social welfare group will form a coalition to tackle ageism in what is being described as Australia’s biggest campaign to reframe attitudes towards growing older.

The Benevolent Society announced its campaign EveryAGE Counts on Thursday, as it launched a report that revealed concerning findings about growing older.

Executive director of the Benevolent Society Kirsty Nowlan said the research, The Drivers of Ageism, showed a mismatch between perceptions about ageing and reality.

“Views about ageing have a preponderance of negativity,” she said.

“People believe that ageing is a process of inevitable decline. The reality is a lot of the fear about ageing is based on a set of myths.

“Ninety per cent of people over 65 rate their health as excellent. More than 90 per cent of older people live independently, not in a nursing home.

“There is a real dissonance between people’s beliefs and what is actually happening.”

The research found that ageist attitudes were most prevalent around employment with one-third of respondents saying employers should be able to force older workers into reduced roles, one-quarter saying bosses would get better value out of training younger workers than older ones and one-fifth saying younger people should get priority over older people for promotion.

Eighteen per cent of respondents accused people who don’t retire at 65 of stealing jobs from younger people.

Alan Williams, 62, is attempting to return to the workforce after nine years of unemployment. After his wife was diagnosed with dementia, he became her full-time carer. He said that now he is willing to return to the workforce, his age appears to be a hindrance.

“You don’t get told officially but I’ve gone for 22 jobs this month and only got two interviews,” he said. “A few others had strict instructions saying that I currently have to be employed”

Mr Williams had previously been self-employed, running a variety of successful businesses. He said that even applying for jobs at his age can be difficult, with changing technology and changing attitudes.

“I rang a recruiter and said that I was putting in an online application and that I couldn’t find anywhere to put in a cover letter. She said she never reads them anyway.

“Coming back in, technology has changed. I expected that but a lot of the terminology is different too.”

Mr Williams said many of his friends had been in a similar situation and had simply given up on looking for work at their age.

“Friends in my age group, over 50, mostly are just doing volunteering work. They applied for several jobs but just didn’t get any.

“I would like a bit more in my superannuation though. I’m happy to work until I’m 75.

“I’m even starting to look overseas so I can get back into the workforce. At least then I’m actually back in the workforce.”

The research, which involved 1400 participants of varying ages, exposed a number of other negative stereotypes about ageing.

However, it did not state an age at which a person becomes “old”.

Almost 60 per cent of respondents believed mental and physical deterioration were inevitable, 43 per cent associated old age with death and 39 per cent said growing older meant losing independence.

Negative attitudes about the cost associated with ageing also came out in the survey with 19 per cent of respondents saying the amount of money spent on healthcare for the elderly should be rationed.

People aged over 65 who took part in the survey had experienced ageism with 57 per cent saying they’d been told a joke about older people, 38 per cent reporting being patronised and 37 per cent being ignored.

Almost a third of older people said they had been turned down for a job due to their age and 14 per cent said they had been turned down for a promotion.

There were some positive perceptions with 73 per cent of people saying older people had a lot to offer younger people, 65 per cent reporting older people have a strong work ethic and 65 per cent believing older people are responsible.

Almost 80 per cent of respondents agreed that ageism was an important issue.

Australians aged 65 and over comprise about 15 per cent of the population, a proportion set to increase to 23 per cent by 2064, according to data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

Dr Nowlan said the campaign would work with governments and the private sector over the next 10 to 15 years to address ageism, a form of discrimination that is likely to affect everyone.

As part of the advocacy, the coalition will lobby for a federal minister to represent older Australians.

“We view this as a long-term campaign of the same scope and scale as the NDIS,” she said.

“This campaign is a 10- to 15-year project aimed at shifting views about growing older.

“We have been given this gift of longer, healthier life and we really ought to make the most of it.”

Source: Sydney Morning Herald

Monday, 01 August 2016

Employers should make flexibility the “default position” for how work is performed to increase the workforce participation of older workers and people with disability, Age and Disability Discrimination Commissioner Susan Ryan says.

Ryan, whose term as Commissioner ends on Wednesday, told a Diversity Council Australia event last week that age and disability discrimination is a “growing problem”, but that turning negative attitudes into positive ones “is not beyond us”.

The Australian Human Rights Commission’s inquiry into the issue found that at April 2015 some 27 per cent of people aged over 50 had recently experienced workplace discrimination; and in the previous 12 months, nearly one in 12 Australians with disability reported experiencing discrimination or unfair treatment.

It also found employers were struggling to find information and support, Ryan said, adding that she was disappointed with employers’ lack of awareness of support services such as JobAccess and the Employee Assistance Fund, which provide organisations with advice and reimbursements for the costs of work-related modifications that help employees with disability.

“Discrimination is costly – it contributes to higher absenteeism, lower productivity, higher staff turnover, and increased recruitment costs, as well as lost business opportunities as a result of abandoning experienced, skilled and corporate knowledge,” she said.

“On the other hand, we also know that organisations that are inclusive and diverse report tangible benefits in terms of productivity, performance and innovation.”

One way to build inclusion and diversity is flexible work, Ryan said, noting that during the inquiry, “virtually every submission and consultation” identified workplace flexibility as an “important element to raise workforce participation”.

“Businesses should seek to normalise flexible work by making flexibility the default position in terms of work location, work hours and job design as far as the role allows,” she said.

In March 2016, NSW Premier Mike Baird announced that all public service jobs would be flexible by 2019 on the basis of “if not, why not”, she said by way of example.

Several other best practice examples are included in a guide released at last week’s event. These include Catholic Homes, which allows for flexibility in shift work; and Commonwealth Bank, which has a number of tools to help managers and employees make flexible arrangements work.

PwC report supports flexibility recommendation
Adding to the evidence that flexible work is good for business, PricewaterhouseCoopers last week released
its Golden Age Index – a weighted average of seven indicators that reflect the labour market impact of workers aged over 55 in 34 OECD countries.

The Index shows Australia has improved in the rankings since 2003, moving from 20th place to 16th in 2014. It performs poorly when compared to other Asia-Pacific countries, however, ranking last in the region, and below the US and Canada.

If Australia increased the participation rate of people aged over 55 to match that of Sweden, it could increase its GDP by about 4.7 per cent ($69 billion at 2014 values), according to the Index.

PwC says employers should adopt flexible working policies, such as ‘phased retirement’ or expanded training programs, to support older workers.

“They should also take steps to achieve age diversity, for example through opening up apprenticeship schemes to older workers so that they can capitalise on their experience,” it says.

AccorHotels, for example – which both the PwC report and the AHRC guide refer to as exemplifying best practice – supports older workers by providing them with a work experience and placement program.

The five-day training program involves work health and safety, complaints and feedback, and basic front office services training, and includes two days of on-the-job work experience in their selected department, as well as interviews with the talent and culture team to prepare them for job placement.

Willing to Work – Good practice examples: A resource for employers, AHRC, July 2016

Golden Age Index, PwC, July 2016

June 13, 2016 12:00am
Karen Brooks

Believing we’re all somehow professionally and socially redundant or our ability to adapt seizes once we reach 55 is ridiculous, depressing and offensive.
Reports emerged last week that managers at Gladstone Power Station (GPS) were intending to get rid of workers aged over 55 years because they were too old to meet “challenging changes.”

According to the bosses, keeping them would impact upon productivity. The reasons behind this “early retirement” plan were generally slammed, arousing deep concerns about attitudes towards older workers in broader social and cultural terms.

Whether or not GPS is justified in their decision from a business perspective or some employees are eager to take up the redundancy packages being offered, there’s something both cavalier and indifferent about the announcement. It indicates that age discrimination is not only alive and well, but in this instance, professionally endorsed.

The irony that GPS is singling out older workers for fear they may lack the requisite energy for a power plant appears to have bypassed management.

We know we’re all living longer — according to a Productivity Commission Report on ageing in Australia released in 2014, a female born in 2012 will live, on average, to 94.4 years while a male will live to an average 91.6 years.

The same report discussed the increase in pensionable age from 67 to 70 years, arguing it would boost participation rates in the workforce by 3-10 per cent.

But as columnist Susie O’Brien asks, “what’s the point of making older people work longer if there are no jobs for them to do?”

Indeed.

Before you continue reading: What’s your plan to keep over-55s in the workforce? We’ve had a number of great suggestions at My Big Idea — now share yours.

In the Chandler-McLeod white paper entitled Coming of Age: The Impact of an Ageing Workforce on Australian Business, published in 2013, it was noted that by 2044, 25 per cent of the population would be over 65 years. The importance of “grey workers” (a title so laden with negative connotations, it has to go) to productivity, how they display a strong work ethic and, importantly, possess a “growing financial imperative to do so following the blow to their savings during the GFC,” was also covered.

Age discrimination is alive and well.
Despite this, mature workers (depending which piece of legislation you read, anyone between 45-55 years) are under-represented in the workforce and “over presented in the joblessness rate.”

The paper also revealed something we instinctively know and the decision taken by the bosses at GPS has made overt: age discrimination is rampant.

Talk to many young workers, and they’ll tell you they are also discriminated against.

Damned if you’re young (lack experience; have a sense of entitlement); damned if you’re older (cost more, just cruising till retirement).

The safest place to be in terms of working age seems to be somewhere in the middle — probably around the ages of the GPS powerbrokers.

In other words, stereotypes and clichés about older workers (and younger) abound. Yet, it seems to me that when it comes to work, age shouldn’t really matter. Poor or great attitudes towards work, loyalty, skills-set, don’t fall into age brackets, but are individual. Experience, if the mind is open and willing, is something one accrues at any age.

Assuming older workers cannot embrace “challenging changes” actually beggars belief, considering they’ve probably lived and worked through more change than many of us can ever imagine.

While older workers may cost more to keep on the books, there are enormous benefits to managers in terms of output, skill and knowledge transfer and leadership development.
Yes, older workers do have to take responsibility for their careers, keep their skills relevant, and while many are reluctant to apply for jobs, they do have to pursue opportunities.

Believing we’re all somehow professionally and socially redundant or our ability to adapt seizes once we reach 55 is ridiculous, depressing and offensive.

But it’s no wonder so many view older people that way, particularly if they don’t know many mature folk in their personal or working lives — just look at the majority of representations of ageing in popular culture.

Advertisements for various insurance policies — from cars to funerals (aren’t they jolly!) feature grey-haired, smiling and often stupid older people asking simple questions and looking gloriously satisfied once they understand they can receive discounts or are still eligible for cover, as if they have no concerns but those.

Ageing celebrities, particularly women, are either mostly absent from our screens, have had so much cosmetic tweaking done (looking at you Sly Stallone), they’re parodies of their younger selves, or (with too few exceptions) feature in comic/curmudgeonly/dependent roles.

It’s easy to be glib about those over 55 when the box you tick on various surveys is well above it. We should heed Mark Twain, who wrote, “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”

I mind that older people are being nudged out of the workforce before they’re ready, and think it really matters — not only in policy terms, but social and cultural ones as well.

Time to have a real conversation about this, before we get any older.

Source: News Corp Australia Network

May 7, 2016
Paul Gilder Herald Sun

Events have combined to cast retiree nest eggs into the path of a financial tornado.
‘TOTO, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”

With those words Dorothy Gale, the heroine of cinema classic The Wizard of Oz, bravely takes her first steps into a foreign land full of uncertainty and risk.

Retirees and those soon to leave the workforce must be feeling a little like Dorothy this week after a run of events that have combined to cast their nest eggs into the path of a financial tornado.

The big banks set the scene as Westpac on Monday and ANZ a day later unveiled first-half earnings slumps and in ANZ’s case, a dividend cut, citing tough trading conditions and sending a shiver up the spine of yield-seeking investors.

It was the Reserve Bank’s turn on Tuesday, stealing the spotlight from Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison’s Budget by cutting the cash rate to an all-time low of 1.75 per cent in the war against deflation — leaving term deposit holders feeling even more unloved.

Perhaps the biggest whammy was in the Budget itself, with news of yet another overhaul to superannuation in the name of fairness and long-term fiscal repair.

Among changes set to be introduced from July next year, the annual cap on concessional — or pre-tax — contributions will be wound back from $30,000 to $25,000 for under-50s and $35,000 for over-50s.

For those earning $250,000 to $300,000, the tax rate on concessional contributions has been doubled to 30 per cent.

And the total a person can transfer into their pension fund — which attracts less tax than a super accumulation fund — will be capped at $1.6 million. It is estimated that those amendments will put an additional $2.9 billion into the government’s coffers over the next four years.

Combined, the revelations are turning the walk down the yellow brick road to a prosperous retirement into an arduous slog.

Remember, this is the generation who have been told that to be comfortable in their golden years, a couple aged around 65 will need to have about $59,200 a year to spend, while a single will need $43,100.

According to the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia, a couple at 65 will need $640,000 to aspire to those annual sums, while a single will need $545,000.

Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show men aged 55-64 have amassed on average $320,000 and women $180,000, while a household — which takes in the impact of single-occupant houses — has $400,000 in savings.

At those rates, many will be struggling to maintain that “comfortable” lifestyle well before their 75th birthdays, even with the benefits of the Age Pension.

Chant West head of research Ian Fryer says the gap is partly down to the relative immaturity of the compulsory super system, which has only been mandatory since 1992.

“It took a number of years for employer contributions to get to 9.5 per cent, so a lot of people nearing retirement aren’t going to get to those retirement savings levels,” Mr Fryer says.

While few are quibbling over the clamps intentionally being applied to the wealthy, economists are worried that more tinkering with super will further knock confidence in the system.

“The changes … still leave superannuation as highly tax preferred compared to alternatives,” AMP Capital chief economist Shane Oliver says.

“The concern though is that it will adversely affect the supply of patient long-term saving available to help grow the Australian economy.”

Respondents to the Westpac-Melbourne Institute’s consumer poll on the “wisest place for savings” has superannuation trailing the pack, favoured by less than 5 per cent.

Most favoured bank deposits, or paying down debt, while property was preferred by about one in five and shares about one in 10.

But the biggest long-term impact to wealth accumulation could yet come from interest rates.

The RBA also finds itself in a scary new world after official figures revealed Australia had joined the ranks of developed nations to suffer a bout of price deflation.

Announcing the RBA had taken the knife to the official interest rate this week, governor Glenn Stevens reasoned that “unexpectedly low” inflation — headline inflation was minus 0.5 per cent in the three months to March — was not to be dismissed lightly.

The hope is that in cutting rates, consumers will divert their mortgage savings back into the economy, and that extra demand will spur businesses to lift prices and reignite inflation.

But there is collateral damage, particularly for the reliable over-50s saver.

On hearing news of the rate cut, former Victorian premier and beyondblue founder Jeff Kennett labelled it a “disaster” for retirees.

“Low interest rates might be great news for homebuyers but for fixed income, more experienced Australians (who are) retired it is a disaster,” he tweeted.

Figures from RateCity.com.au, an online financial product broker, show the best term deposits on the market are offering about 3.3 per cent for one year, or about $6600 on a $200,000 deposit.

The big four banks are even stingier: rates of 2.3 per cent to 3.1 per cent are typical for anything up to five years.

“A lot of people are asking us where to park their savings when rates are low,” says RateCity money editor Sally Tindall.

“Online savings accounts are not offering a lot more than inflation, so the answer is often putting your money into a mortgage, which can be more productive in the long run.”

Mr Fryer says low returns have forced many people to take on more risk at a time when they have little recourse to recoup any heavy losses. For many, that means investing in Australian shares, and the big banks this week proved how stressful that path can be.

Lower rates, Mr Fryer says, can provide a sugar hit to shares but can also be a signal of difficult economic times to come.

Another obvious area of investment is property, after the government this week made good on its vow to leave negative gearing alone.

But Mr Fryer says would-be investors need to tread with caution.

“I’d be concerned if people were making investment decisions based on the current cash rate. They need to see if they can cope with higher repayments down the track.”

It seems that like Dorothy, anyone wanting to don a pair of ruby slippers in retirement might just need to do a little more legwork.

paul.gilder@news.com.au
Source: News.com

Australians approaching retirement age are braced for declining living standards under a system in which the rich have done better from superannuation rules, leaving the rest with insufficient savings or languishing on inadequate age pensions, a survey has found.

Many now back “root and branch” reform to address the problem, including calculating the family home in the age pension asset test and reducing the generous tax concessions for superannuation contributions by the well-off.

As the Turnbull government prepares to unveil its first budget, a survey of over 4000 Australians aged between 50 and 70 found this critical group of voters is profoundly nervous about the future, unconvinced about financial security and more inclined to reform than previously thought.

The online survey, conducted by the YourLifeChoices website, received 4004 responses to its 21-point questionnaire, conducted in the shadow of the politically pivotal 2016 federal budget to be tabled on May 3.

The results suggest the nation’s 5.5 million Baby Boomers are not the fixed conservative bloc that is sometimes assumed, and that worsening financial circumstances mean many would back policy options previously ruled out.

Among the findings is that 60 per cent of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed that a family home, if valued above $2.5 million, should not be excluded from the pension eligibility assets test.

“Perhaps the most surprising result in the survey, and contrary to expectation, is that the family home is no longer considered sacrosanct when it comes to the age pension assets test,” said publisher Kaye Fallick.

There is also support for changes to superannuation rules, suggesting super is not the political kryptonite it had been, as Boomers worry about the system’s financial sustainability and the need to protect fairness.

While many want a moratorium on changes, two-thirds of respondents believe reform of the superannuation system is required to wind back generous tax concessions, because they provide a disproportionate advantage to high income earners who are able to channel significant amounts of pre-tax income into their super accounts at a greatly discounted rate – thus costing the budget billions of dollars.

“Older Australians are not averse to change nor overly protective of all retirement assets and tax advantages, as much current ‘generational warfare’ hype might lead us to believe,” Ms Fallick said.

Sixty-seven per cent described changing the concessional rules on the accumulation phase of superannuation as something with which they either agreed or strongly agreed. Just 15 per cent classified the issue as not very important to them or not important at all.

The survey result suggests Labor is on to a winner with these voters with its policy of doubling from 15 per cent to 30 per cent the rate at which super contributions are taxed for those earning more than $250,000 a year. Currently the 30 per cent rate kicks in on contributions for those earning above $300,000.

Fairfax Media has reported that the government was considering going further than Labor in its pre-election budget by reducing the threshhold for the 30 per cent to $180,000, but that plan looks to have been dumped in favour of the $250,000 threshhold.

Underpinning the survey is a strong concern about the adequacy of the retirement system generally, with 82 per cent agreeing or strongly agreeing that the “root and branch” review is necessary.

By contrast, last year’s budget decision to continue pushing out the pension eligibility age from a projected 67 in 2023 to 70 by 2030 attracted strong opposition at 68 per cent.

But while Labor was onside with older voters on more heavily taxing super contributions for the well-off, its proposal to tax super earnings at a concessional rate for earnings above $75,000 in a year was not favoured – despite its negligible impact on all but the wealthiest superannuants.

Sixty-eight per cent disagreed or strongly disagreed with taxing earnings at all.

With negative gearing set to be centre stage in the election contest, respondents were locked at 41-41 on Labor’s policy of limiting the tax concession to apply solely to newly constructed homes.

Source: The Age

April 15, 2016

A government pilot program is revealing Australia has a strong workforce of mature workers keen to remain productive.   Skills Checkpoint Pilot offers workers aged between 45 and 54 years a professional careers “health check” to evaluate their skills and experience in order to create a personalised career map of their future prospects.

Participants are also invited to attend online and offline workshops on training opportunities, the future jobs market, and recruitment trends for those looking at transitioning into new careers.

The whole process takes about six weeks, after which participants receive their career map defining ways to address skills gaps, listing suitable occupations and employment opportunities to suit their skillsets and information on training pathways and government programs relevant to their circumstances.

Pilot participant “Theresa,” who shoulders caring responsibilities for her disabled son, says her career map clarified the directions she could realistically pursue in the context of her circumstances.

“The pilot helped me realise I have a lot of transferrable skills applicable to local industries where flexible work practices are more commonplace than where I am working right now,” Teresa says.

“I am also better informed about government programs and assistance I am eligible for if I want to pursue further training – I feel more certain about my future options.”

So far, the Skills Checkpoint initiative is attracting a lot of interest from a workforce of mature Australians keen to remain productive, who are driven to generate an income to secure a comfortable retirement.

The average Australian healthy lifestyle expectancy is one of the highest in the world, due to improvements in health care and other technologies, while the age pension age for both men and women will hit 67 by mid-2023.

Meanwhile, the number of working people aged 15 to 64 in proportion to each of those aged 65 and over has dropped from 7.3 people in 1975 to around 4.5 people today.

It’s clearly an economic imperative that we do all we can to encourage mature Australians to contribute their experience and skill to the workforce.

This pilot recognises that many older people need advice on how best to do that, and I hope we can assist many people to realise their dreams.

To participate call 1300 073 612 or visit skillsroad.com.au/skillscheckpoint

Source:  Australian Ageing Agenda

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