Posts Tagged “older workers”

As Australia’s vaccination rate heads towards meeting important targets, economists are no clearer on how the shockwaves caused by the COVID-19 pandemic will play out in the months to come.

There are fears that as business slowly starts to pick up around the country, growth will be slowed by a significant labour shortage, with many older workers, who may have lost work, choosing not to return to the workforce.

A CommSec Economic Insight analysing detailed labour force data has found that lockdowns in NSW and Victoria have scrambled the figures, but appear to point to many older Australians not returning to the workforce.

The report explains that prior to the pandemic, one of the major reasons that Aussies were not employed or looking for jobs was that they had retired and were out of the job market.

 In April 2018, a record 38.7 per cent of people aged 65 and over said that they were ‘permanently not intending to work’, which was a significant increase from the 33 per cent that answered that way in September 2014.

Prior to COVID-19, the figures showed a reassessment, with the proportion of those not in the workforce because they were retired falling from 38.7 per cent to a three-year low of 35.3 per cent in July 2019.

The effect of COVID hitting shortly after this change has made it impossible to determine if this was the start of a trend, the CommSec economists explain.

That is because more people left the job market over lockdown periods because they were not employed but were not looking for work because they were likely to return to their employer when businesses reopened.

That meant that the proportion of those not in the workforce because they were retired hit a record 39.9 per cent of the total in June 2021 and this has since fallen to a low of 36.4 per cent in September 2021.

“If more people are electing to retire, then there are fewer potential workers to fill positions,” Mr James said. “That may mean the job market tightens more than generally expected, putting upward pressure on wages and prices. And that is especially the case if foreign borders stay closed.

“Older Aussies may see greater health risks in being in the job market in the COVID era. And still others may elect to live large given the experience of the past 18 months.

“At this stage data still shows that older Aussies are active in the job market with record participation levels. However, peak levels may not be far away.”

Earlier this year, ANZ chief executive Shayne Elliott said that employers should turn to older Australians to address labour shortages.

Mr Elliott explained that ANZ had found older workers more effective in customer service roles and better able to empathise with customers in difficulty due to more life experience than younger workers.

In November last year, a research discussion paper commissioned by Sustainable Population Australia (SPA) said that the proportion of workers over 65 would settle at around 28 to 33 per cent and that over-65s would never outnumber younger adults.

Source:Yourlifechoices

If you’ve just come out of yet another stint of working from home through a lockdown, and you’re feeling both physically and mentally exhausted, you are not alone.

During the pandemic, 85 per cent of employees globally experienced higher burnout and nearly half reported having worse work/life balance.

If your boss is behaving like the last two years were just a bump in the road and is asking you to turn your attention to chasing down new targets and performance goals, you are not alone. 56 per cent of CEOs are gearing up for growth next year.

For many of us, it will feel like reaching the finishing line of a marathon, then being asked to start a triathlon.

The unrelenting pressure on already burnt out and psychologically damaged knowledge workers has prompted a phenomenon called ‘The Great Resignation’, and it will lead to the biggest movement of talent that Australia, and the rest of the world, has ever seen.

Aussies are sick of being overworked and are on the lookout for new opportunities. Picture: iStock

Aussies are sick of being overworked and are on the lookout for new opportunities. Picture: iStock

Fight or flight: is your job a threat to your wellbeing?

The question that keeps coming up is ‘why’? Why are we feeling this way? Why does it feel like it will be easier to just cut and run?

It’s ironic that in a time when our lives are so reliant on technology, the answer is somewhat primal.

When exhausted or threatened, people go into fight or flight mode, and most knowledge workers will know this feeling.

We fought hard to save our jobs and our way of life from the economic threat in front of us. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Australians and their APAC colleagues have worked longer hours, taken on more additional tasks and worked on days off more than in any other part of the world.

Now, as the dust settles, the economy improves and the breadth of job opportunities increases, people are reflecting on their experiences. The perceived need to be ‘always available’ for work without any additional recognition, respect or reward has many realising that work itself is now a threat to their happiness, health, relationships and mental outlook.

Decompression will send employees out the door, unless work culture changes

This instinctive human response to threats makes room for bold choices that will play out in one of two ways, but both ultimately end with a mass movement of talent in the workforce.

Many workers in Australia feel their relationship with their job is irreparably broken and will flee from what feels like a toxic relationship. For others, the simple desire for change, to say, “it’s not you, it’s me” and draw a line under the past two years will be overwhelming.

Homeschooling and the pandemic have made people reconsider their work/life balance.

In the coming months we’re likely to see an emancipation on a scale we’ve never seen before as people change roles or start entirely new careers.

If this feels like you, be aware that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Starting a new role, establishing new networks and developing new skills takes time and energy, of which Aussies have precious little.

On the other hand, others will choose to fight for the life and lifestyle they feel they now deserve. Flexibility, respect and purpose will become the minimum employee demands.

Organisations who do not meet those needs will lose staff. Those willing to embrace radical flexibility, human-centric work design and progressive social causes will become talent magnets.

It’s worth reminding your boss of this if you choose to have a discussion about the future of your role. The best place to start is examining what you need to change about your job and be firm about what you’ll accept as minimum.

It also needs to be said that the luxury to reconsider a job or entire career is reserved predominantly for knowledge workers who enjoy a higher-than-average sense of economic stability. Many lower-paid or frontline workers will not have the luxury to make these decisions.

Rewriting the social contract: the rise of the four-day work week?

When economic conditions swing wildly in the favour of workers, it tends to pave the way for massive societal change. Take the introduction of the 40-hour work week, or how WWII paved the way for women to enter jobs previously reserved only for men.

We’re seeing the same thing in 2021. With the job market heavily favouring jobseekers, the premiums being offered to secure talent make a job change are an alluring prospect for most workers.

Combine that with an increased desire for flexibility in a role and Australians’ willingness to change jobs, and companies will be forced to come up with solutions that don’t involve a pay rise.

Imagine staying on the salary you’re on, but only working four days. Sounds appealing, right?

Whether you choose to flee or to fight for better, the future of Australia’s work practices are in your hands. There’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Australians to transform how we work and seize the lifestyle we want, but it won’t come from a job-switch alone.

As we enter this new era, it’s important to remember that we work to live, we don’t live to work. Prioritise your wellbeing and be clear with your employer about what you need. After the last two years, we all deserve at least that.

Aaron McEwan is a behavioural scientist, coaching psychologist and vice president for global research and advisory firm, Gartner | @aaronmcewan

Source: News.com.au

 

New research of Australia’s older workers has found that experiences of age discrimination in the workplace have almost doubled in the last five years.

According to the Australian Seniors Series: Ageing in the Workforce 2021 report, one in five workers (20.7%) aged over 50 has encountered age discrimination in the workplace – twice as many compared to 2016 (9.6%). Just over 40% say they have felt patronised in the workplace because of their age.

Despite the prevalence of ageism, more than three quarters of Australians aged over 50 want to keep working indefinitely and almost 90% of retirees plan to re-enter the workforce. Finance was identified as the biggest reason, followed by missing their job, boredom and a lack of social connection.

Speaking at a recent virtual roundtable, attended by HRD, industry experts discussed the new findings, sharing common misconceptions and ways to address ageism in the workplace. Tai Mavins, social research expert and consulting partner at Mymavins, said the events of the past 18 months have made things even more difficult for older workers.

“Over one in two seniors feel that Covid has made it harder to get work, and close to one in five feel that recent events have impacted their retirement plans, so it’s bringing a lot of uncertainty into their working life,” Mavins said. “In response to this, we actually see that one in four seniors admit to trying to make themselves look younger in the workplace or when they’re applying for jobs. That includes things from dying their hair, wearing the latest fashion, getting the latest haircut and makeup styles.”

Older workers are also becoming increasingly proactive at upskilling to keep up with advancing industry trends, with many branching out into new career paths.

“We found that close to three in five seniors plan to or already have reskilled or sought further training to improve their prospects since turning 50,” Mavins said. “What’s probably most interesting about that is as many as half of those people who are looking to reskill have done that in new areas, so they’re really expanding their horizons and moving beyond past roles.”

The research shows that the appetite to work and to continue learning is there. Like many nations, Australia has an ageing population, and the rising cost of living means people are working till later in life. So how do HR leaders address the causes of age discrimination and foster a truly inclusive workplace?

Humphrey Armstrong, an organisational psychologist at Lifelong Learning, said much of the problem stems back to commonly held misconceptions, like older employees costing more, being more difficult to train, or being resistant to change.

“I think one of the fascinating things is that emotional intelligence, or emotional capabilities actually increase with age well into a person’s 70s,” he said. “In terms of resistance to change, I think if older people know why change is needed and how to change they are prepared to jump on board.”

Armstrong pointed out that twice as many start-ups are initiated by over 50s than people in their twenties. Clearly, there is a huge amount of value in the learned knowledge, intuition and life experience of an older worker. But for a workforce to be inclusive of all ages, ageism needs to be more widely talked about, Armstrong said.

“We hear a lot about gender diversity, especially over the last few months, but in fact, age diversity is often ignored. We’ve got to actually bring that in and really reinforce the issue,” Armstrong said. “Research studies show that diversity is an incredible advantage in organisational life, it increases profitability, creativity, enhances governance, and it also enables better problem solving.

“And as mentioned, emotional intelligence can increase with age so there’s this huge resource where older people are, in fact, very valuable and very skilled at handling tricky interpersonal problems and generally they are better able to cope with ambiguity.”

Lisa Sinclair, editor-in-chief at DARE Magazine, said she’d like to see more organisations introducing policies to support women going through menopause and acknowledge the pressures on the “sandwich generation” who may be supporting both elderly parents and older children. There are also simple measures to improve inclusivity during the recruitment process.

“I would love it if companies in general stopped advertising for unicorns, which are these mythical creatures that have 15 different boxes to tick,” she said. “I mean that’s hard enough for any age but I think it could be particularly confronting for the over 50s who might be put off for applying for jobs just because there’s one element they don’t meet.”

Source:HRD

older worker

 

Australia’s chronic skill shortage has been even more acute since the breakout of COVID-19, and the broken record from businesses across all industries is the lack of skilled workers. In the age of emerging technologies and the rapid rate of change, it is natural for employers to gravitate to the younger (‘techier’) generation.

But younger workers are in short supply, shown by the decline in Australia’s birth rate over the last 30 years. Since 1976, Australia’s total fertility rate has been below replacement level and in 2019, the ‘total fertility rate’ was 1.66 versus its peak of 3.55 in 1961.

So, should astute hiring managers be looking towards the relatively untapped resource presented by the 19.4% of our workforce over 55 years of age? Over 55-year-olds also represent a significant 38.5% of the population above 19 years of age. With a current combined life expectancy of 83 years, a 55-year-old has many working years ahead of them.

Are older Australians up to the job?

If you are worried about performance, research shows no difference in performance between older and more youthful workers.  A key strategy for workforces globally is to reskill and upskill their existing workforce, and older workers are equally able to adapt and learn new skills. Scientific evidence shows that ‘for most people, raw mental horsepower declines after the age of 30, but knowledge and expertise – the main predictors of job performance–keep increasing even beyond the age of 80.’ Some businesses persist in trying to source talent from the ‘younger generational’ pool – their age bias can be that strong! In a recent study, 31% of Australians reported experiencing a form of discrimination, with ageism topping the list. But if employers were to rethink their approach when it comes to older workers, they would soon find themselves with a valuable talent pool.

Skills displayed in older workers

Still not convinced. There are skills older workers have that their younger counterparts may not possess. Older workers have wisdom. Wisdom cannot be learnt from books or virtual learning scenarios. It is acquired over time from life experience, knowledge, and tried and tested judgements. Valuable insights, meaningful contributions, and good decision making are some of the benefits.

 Mentoring enhances training programs and represents a valuable and different dynamic for mentees. We have lost some of our formal and traditional structures with changing societal norms and, with that, real role models. Acting as role models based on values and life achievements, they can nurture younger workers and share general and professional knowledge, experience, and life lessons. Mentoring creates trusted relations, increases employee engagement and retention, provides inspiration, encouragement and helps diversity.

Patience and tolerance are not just needed but expected for all workplaces. Learnt patience comes with time and less of a need to prove yourself. Being comfortable in your skin brings confidence, more prevalent in mature workers. Having tolerance in accepting people’s views and differences positively impact the team environment, bringing increased inclusion, cooperation, and collaboration. Patience also leads to better self-regulation skills benefiting team dynamics.

Over the years, mature employees have worked with various types of co-workers and managers and learnt how to handle different personality styles and work environments. Their interpersonal skills are well-honed. Their perceptions and understanding of behaviours are deeper.

We have all worked with those special, reliable employees who have seen it all before and know how to weather the latest storm. In our current times of increased uncertainty, rapid change and the collective anxiety brought on by COVID, it makes sense to employ stable, mature, wise individuals who can act as emotional anchors and help us navigate turbulent waters.

For the first time, Australia’s workforce includes five different generations. It opens up a learning opportunity and creates better business performance. As a final point, before you continue to dismiss ‘older workers’, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), older workers are those 45-65 years of age. Now, who is an older worker?

 

Source: Womens Agenda

Senior Advisor Bequest

RMIT’s latest mature aged graduates are today celebrating the value of lifelong learning as they receive qualifications to work in the aged care and disability services sector.

The 31 graduates aged in their 50s, 60s and 70s were the first cohort to complete the Certificate III in Individual Support (Ageing and Disability).

The 12-month course was developed to support unemployed mature workers over the age of 50 through accredited training and job placement in the aged care and disability services sector.

It’s one initiative as part of the Reach, Train and Employ Project led by the Council on the Ageing (COTA) Victoria in partnership with RMIT and Good Shepherd Australia and New Zealand.

RMIT’s Future Social Service Institute (FSSI) Director, Micaela Cronin, said the course aimed to increase employment opportunities for older Australians in a vital sector, supporting older people and those with disabilities in the community.

“Opening doors and creating effective pathways for those in our community who face barriers to training and employment is vital to growing a diverse and highly skilled social service sector and is a core part of the work that we do,”  she said.

news-Micaela-CroninRMIT’s Future Social Service Institute Director, Micaela Cronin says opening doors to training and employment in the social services sector is vital.

Graduate Sharyn Ciberlin, 53, has now found work as a personal carer, after being in and out of work since 2018.

After an initial career as a chef, that included working for the military and various hospitality venues, Sharyn had more recently been working at a school supporting teachers in the classroom and teaching kids to cook.

However she said it was doing voluntary work for Melton Council taking elderly to their appointments and then supporting a friend who had a stroke that made her realise she also had a flair and passion for personal care and supporting others in the community.

“This course and new career feels like a wonderful fit for me. The people I support, they value and appreciate me and I love to support them, especially as my life experience and knowledge adds to my contribution to the aged,” she said.

“Also being over 50, and having worked as a chef in the past, I was looking for a job that was less strenuous physically and one that suited my skills and qualities including compassion and empathy for others.”

Sharyn emphasised the importance of choices and opportunities to re-educate yourself as people get older.

“This program is really clever as it’s addressing two issues in our community: employing older workers and focusing on supporting members in our community including the aged and people with a disability,” she said.

“You do hear about homeless levels for people over 50 or that we can be slotted into the ‘too old’ category for some roles.

“It can be especially challenging for our generation of women who have had to care for our family, elderly and young and may have had time out of our careers to do this.

“It’s so important to keep ourselves re-educated and to fit in with the current work needs, especially if we’ve had to step out of work for a time.

Graduate Sharyn Cyberlin has embraced the opportunity to retrain and begin a new career in her 50s.Graduate Sharyn Cyberlin has embraced the opportunity to retrain and begin a new career in her 50s.

For Sharyn, learning new digital skills throughout the course was something she wholeheartedly embraced too, as COVID restrictions meant it was taught mostly online.

“I absolutely loved learning, including the technology aspects, and I enjoyed helping others in the course who weren’t so confident in learning the new skills or grasping the technology needed to complete the program,” she said.

And she is quick to point out the merits of education opportunities for all.

“My biggest passion is choice. I think everyone should have a choice about the paths they can take,” she said.

“It doesn’t matter where you are or what stage of life you’re in, people need to have their choices valued and heard.”

Having already secured casual work with two home service agencies, Sharyn is now looking forward to finding permanent work and using her skills to support others now she’s graduated.

“I always tell my clients, ‘I’m here to help and I am here for you’ and I like to ask them, ‘How can I help you?’ Even if it’s just to be a listening ear sometimes, I know this work is valuable.”

COTA Victoria CEO, Tina Hogarth-Clarke, said the inaugural program was a great success with graduates now working closely with COTA Victoria to look at job opportunities.

“The Victorian Aged and Disability sector is in desperate need of quality candidates and we have a group of very enthusiastic graduates who are ideal for these positions. It is a great outcome all round.”

The program was supported by the Try, Test and Learn Fund – an initiative of the Australian Government Department of Social Services.

Story: Kate Milkins

The Big Victorian Harvest needs workers of all ages and skillsets. Jobs include fruit picking, packing, grains receival and heavy vehicle driving.

Most jobs required skills that can be learned on the job. Some jobs require training, skills or licences – like driving, for example. Check what’s needed before you apply.

The work is rewarding but it can be physically demanding. Some jobs may require heavy lifting, bending, climbing ladders and operating machinery. Work is often outdoors and exposed to the elements.

There are thousands of short-term jobs ripe for the picking in paddocks and packing sheds in Sunraysia, the Goulburn Valley, the Yarra Valley and Gippsland.

Take on the Big Victorian Harvest and help our farmers while you earn money.

Ready to apply? Head to Working for Victoria, the government’s online job-matching platform to register for jobs and training.

Sign-on bonus and extra benefits

The Big Victorian Harvest needs workers of all ages and skillsets. Jobs include fruit picking, packing, grains receival and heavy vehicle driving.

Most jobs required skills that can be learned on the job. Some jobs require training, skills or licences – like driving, for example. Check what’s needed before you apply.

The work is rewarding but it can be physically demanding. Some jobs may require heavy lifting, bending, climbing ladders and operating machinery. Work is often outdoors and exposed to the elements.

Seasonal Harvest Sign-on Bonus

Jobseekers who take up a seasonal harvest job on a Victorian farm on or after Wednesday 17 February 2021 can apply for a Seasonal Harvest Sign-on Bonus.

The bonus is aimed at attracting new workers to agriculture and giving farmers the workforce certainty they need this harvest season.

The bonus means you could earn up to $2,430 on top of your wages for eight weeks of work. The bonus is paid in two instalments:

  • $810, after 10 days of work within a 30-day period
  • $1,620, after an additional six weeks’ work within a 90-day period.

To be eligible for the bonus you must:

  • be 18 years or older and have work rights in Australia
  • not have worked in the agriculture sector in Victoria in the past three months
  • complete at least 10 days’ seasonal harvest work on a Victorian horticulture farm within a 30 day period to receive the $810 payment
  • complete at least another 30 days’ seasonal harvest work on a Victorian horticulture farm within a 90 day period to receive the $1,620 payment
  • not be employed under the Pacific Labour Scheme or Seasonal Worker Programme
  • provide evidence of employment in the Victorian horticulture industry and that you have met the work eligibility requirements.

The work does not need to be undertaken with only one employer, but it does need to be on a Victorian horticulture farm.

How to apply

Workers are not required to register for the bonus until after the initial 10-day work eligibility period has been completed.

Once you have completed your 10 days’ work, you will be able to apply for the bonus on this webpage, through our online portal.

Further details about how to apply will be provided here soon.

Extra benefits

The Victorian and Commonwealth Government are offering incentives for people to work in agriculture.

Relocation rebate

If you move to work on the Big Victorian Harvest, you may be eligible for relocation assistance from the Commonwealth Government.

Australian jobseekers may be eligible to claim up to $6,000 of reimbursements, while up to $2,000 is available to international jobseekers.

To be eligible, you must:

  • be at least 18 years old
  • relocate within Australia to a regional, remote or Harvest Area
  • take up a short-term agricultural work through a Harvest Trail Services provider
  • work for at least six weeks and 120 hours in agricultural work.

Find out more about relocation rebate and the eligibility criteria on the Harvest Trail Services website.

If you take on the Big Victorian Harvest, you may be eligible for:

  • Greater access to Youth Allowance or ABSTUDY. Earn $15,000 in agriculture between 30 November 2020 and 31 December 2021 to be considered independent.
  • Free Victorian Government-funded training programs to get you ready for work in agriculture.

Eligibility to work

You can work in a harvest job if you:

  • are an Australian citizen or permanent resident
  • are an eligible working holiday maker holding a visa with appropriate working rights
  • are an overseas student with working rights in Australia
  • hold a Seasonal Worker Program or Pacific Labour Scheme visa
  • hold a temporary work visa with general work rights, not restricted to an employer or type of work.

Who is going to hire a woman in her 50s?

It’s a question Tracey Ward has been asking herself a lot lately.

The 56-year-old is a self-employed life coach for women, but has seen her income dry up due to the pandemic.

She’s surviving off JobKeeper payments, but when the subsidy is scrapped in March, Ms Ward is afraid she will “really struggle”.

She knows she could get some sort of work – “there are organisations like Bunnings who hire people of all ages”, she said – but she wants something different for herself and fears the lack of attention from the federal government on her age group could signal the end of her career.

While the government has focused on the high levels of youth unemployment borne out of the pandemic, middle-aged, mid-career workers say they have been forgotten.

The unemployment rate for Australians aged over 40 was 3.8 per cent in January 2020 and grew to 5.2 per cent in July before recovering slightly to 4.7 per cent by October.

Some of those stuck unemployed say they are dumbing down their resumes to appear less threatening to potential new employers; others, like Ms Ward, wish funding could be funnelled into upskilling rather than hiring incentives based on age.

‘If you’re 40-plus and a woman you just don’t get a new job’

A woman in a red cap and sunglasses leans on a wooden railing over the sea.
Sheena Gulati has been told she’s too qualified for the jobs she applies for.(Supplied)

Sheena Gulati was told many times in 2020 that she was “overqualified” for a role.

The 43-year-old lives in Sydney with her husband and two children.

Before the pandemic hit, she was working as a part-time contractor in accounting and finance.

Of all the reasons to be rejected from a job, being “too experienced” wasn’t something she expected to hear.

“They want someone who is young because I think they think overqualified people will ask more questions and tell them how to do things better,” Ms Gulati said.

She suspects her qualifications have little to do with it.

“It’s your age they’re talking about,” she said.

Ms Gulati felt the competition within the jobs market ramp up, and said she is surrounded by friends and family in their 40s who are struggling to secure work.

It’s become so tough she’s considering a career change.

“I have been thinking about it, but it would be a fresh start. It’s scary. I have been in this line of work for a really long time, my qualifications are in this so it will be hard starting afresh,” she said.

“If you’re 40-plus and a woman you just don’t get a new job.”

Her mortgage, other household bills and the expense of raising two children is beginning to bite and Ms Gulati says she’s frustrated the government appeared to forget about middle-aged Australians.

“Why does the government want to give more benefits to elderly people over 65 but not us? What do you do between 35 and 50? Where do you go? What do you want us to do?

“I think it’s unjust – your partiality is based on age. Why? I have no idea.”

Need a job? Learn to ask

A woman sits at a table smiling into the camera.
Career practitioner Lois Keay-Smith says mature-aged workers can’t rely on what worked for them the first time around.(Supplied)

Career practitioner Lois Keay-Smith has been coaching people looking for a new job for years, and primarily helps people aged 30 to 60.

She said, surprisingly, the pandemic appeared to be the last straw for people looking for a career change.

“It’s highlighted aspects of their work they don’t like. It’s given people some freedom to say, ‘I wasn’t happy anyway and with all these changes I want to go and do what I want to do’,” she said.

Ms Keay-Smith said older workers “definitely” faced challenges, like adapting to a new work environment where competition for jobs was high.

“I find some mature work-seekers fall back on what worked for them last time, but it doesn’t work because there are so many more eyeballs on job ads,” she said.

“But an advantage they have is they have good networks; they’ve been in the workforce and often the work I do is help them activate that network.”

Ms Keay-Smith says one of the best pieces of advice she has is: learn to ask.

“I call it the rise of the returnee – going back to a company you used to work for by tapping into those colleagues you used to work with before,” she said.

“There used to be a stigma around that – you never go back – but that’s changed and both of these things around people are more accepting that things change in organisations quite rapidly.”

Ms Keay-Smith also says she’s heard the ‘overqualified’ response quite a lot when it comes to mature workers.

“[The company’s] main concern is that you are using the job as an entry point,” she said.

“They feel you are not going to stay because it’s not fulfilling and you might get bored.”

Her advice for people who do want to scale down their role is to be honest.

“If you know you are going to get the overqualified response, you do have to address the elephant in the room and say why you are attracted to this role.

“It’s about positioning yourself as a stayer or someone who can contribute a lot in a short space of time.”

Ms Keay-Smith’s top career advice is:

  • Use your networks.
  • Get comfortable being on camera. Practise interviews on Zoom with a friend.
  • Don’t be afraid to go back to a company you used to work for.
  • Get up to speed with the latest interview techniques.

Older workers want to upskill

Hands are seen on the keyboard of a laptop.
Tracey Ward doesn’t want a handout, she wants to learn new skills to improve her business.(Unsplash: Thomas Lefebvre)

While Ms Ward believes an incentive to hire young people is great, she says helping people who are mid-career would have a greater benefit overall.

“Younger people have time to try things and fail and learn from it, but it becomes more scary when you’re older and have a mortgage to pay and have no back-up plan,” she said.

“You’re very conscious of your superannuation for retirement.

“I am very proud to be a woman in my 50s, but I know women who don’t let their hair go grey because if their company finds out how old they are they go in the redundancy pile.”

Just like Ms Gulati, Ms Ward has heard employers say they don’t want to hire qualified, older workers because they are afraid they will “make waves”.

She has friends who have pared back their resumes after being told they are “too experienced” for a role.

“It’s desperate and very real for many especially women; grey-haired men are classed as distinguished and experienced whereas grey-haired women aren’t. We are not revered for our wisdom.”

Ms Ward doesn’t just want to be hired, she wants to upskill to remain relevant in the ever-digitising workplace.

“Everything is going online and into a digital space so fast and some older people are being left behind because there’s no time or money to reskill,” she said.

“I have just spent the past hour trying to work out how I record myself whilst I’m recording a presentation on the Mac, so there’s endless [challenges].”

Sometimes she laughs it off. Other times it’s overwhelming.

Ms Ward said an upskilling program where companies provide pro-bono work for older people to learn digital skills would go a long way, and be much more helpful than just being hired by a company because there’s a monetary incentive.

“I’m not talking about someone from Centrelink showing me how to do it for half an hour on video. I’m talking about someone who is at the head of their game getting a tax incentive to help me step up my business,” she said.

“And then I could employ people so it could be a win if other companies were encouraged to help people like me because I don’t have the funds to do it myself.

“I don’t want a free handbag. I want my business to be really successful. I’d happily be the pilot for it.”

Have you been rejected for a job because you are ‘too qualified’? Does the system discriminate against older Australians?

Who is going to hire a woman in her 50s?

It’s a question Tracey Ward has been asking herself a lot lately.

The 56-year-old is a self-employed life coach for women, but has seen her income dry up due to the pandemic.

She’s surviving off JobKeeper payments, but when the subsidy is scrapped in March, Ms Ward is afraid she will “really struggle”.

She knows she could get some sort of work – “there are organisations like Bunnings who hire people of all ages”, she said – but she wants something different for herself and fears the lack of attention from the federal government on her age group could signal the end of her career.

While the government has focused on the high levels of youth unemployment borne out of the pandemic, middle-aged, mid-career workers say they have been forgotten.

The unemployment rate for Australians aged over 40 was 3.8 per cent in January 2020 and grew to 5.2 per cent in July before recovering slightly to 4.7 per cent by October.

Some of those stuck unemployed say they are dumbing down their resumes to appear less threatening to potential new employers; others, like Ms Ward, wish funding could be funnelled into upskilling rather than hiring incentives based on age.

‘If you’re 40-plus and a woman you just don’t get a new job’

A woman in a red cap and sunglasses leans on a wooden railing over the sea.
Sheena Gulati has been told she’s too qualified for the jobs she applies for.(Supplied)

Sheena Gulati was told many times in 2020 that she was “overqualified” for a role.

The 43-year-old lives in Sydney with her husband and two children.

Before the pandemic hit, she was working as a part-time contractor in accounting and finance.

Of all the reasons to be rejected from a job, being “too experienced” wasn’t something she expected to hear.

“They want someone who is young because I think they think overqualified people will ask more questions and tell them how to do things better,” Ms Gulati said.

She suspects her qualifications have little to do with it.

“It’s your age they’re talking about,” she said.

Ms Gulati felt the competition within the jobs market ramp up, and said she is surrounded by friends and family in their 40s who are struggling to secure work.

It’s become so tough she’s considering a career change.

“I have been thinking about it, but it would be a fresh start. It’s scary. I have been in this line of work for a really long time, my qualifications are in this so it will be hard starting afresh,” she said.

“If you’re 40-plus and a woman you just don’t get a new job.”

Her mortgage, other household bills and the expense of raising two children is beginning to bite and Ms Gulati says she’s frustrated the government appeared to forget about middle-aged Australians.

“Why does the government want to give more benefits to elderly people over 65 but not us? What do you do between 35 and 50? Where do you go? What do you want us to do?

“I think it’s unjust – your partiality is based on age. Why? I have no idea.”

Need a job? Learn to ask

A woman sits at a table smiling into the camera.
Career practitioner Lois Keay-Smith says mature-aged workers can’t rely on what worked for them the first time around.(Supplied)

Career practitioner Lois Keay-Smith has been coaching people looking for a new job for years, and primarily helps people aged 30 to 60.

She said, surprisingly, the pandemic appeared to be the last straw for people looking for a career change.

“It’s highlighted aspects of their work they don’t like. It’s given people some freedom to say, ‘I wasn’t happy anyway and with all these changes I want to go and do what I want to do’,” she said.

Ms Keay-Smith said older workers “definitely” faced challenges, like adapting to a new work environment where competition for jobs was high.

“I find some mature work-seekers fall back on what worked for them last time, but it doesn’t work because there are so many more eyeballs on job ads,” she said.

“But an advantage they have is they have good networks; they’ve been in the workforce and often the work I do is help them activate that network.”

Ms Keay-Smith says one of the best pieces of advice she has is: learn to ask.

“I call it the rise of the returnee – going back to a company you used to work for by tapping into those colleagues you used to work with before,” she said.

“There used to be a stigma around that – you never go back – but that’s changed and both of these things around people are more accepting that things change in organisations quite rapidly.”

Ms Keay-Smith also says she’s heard the ‘overqualified’ response quite a lot when it comes to mature workers.

“[The company’s] main concern is that you are using the job as an entry point,” she said.

“They feel you are not going to stay because it’s not fulfilling and you might get bored.”

Her advice for people who do want to scale down their role is to be honest.

“If you know you are going to get the overqualified response, you do have to address the elephant in the room and say why you are attracted to this role.

“It’s about positioning yourself as a stayer or someone who can contribute a lot in a short space of time.”

Ms Keay-Smith’s top career advice is:

  • Use your networks.
  • Get comfortable being on camera. Practise interviews on Zoom with a friend.
  • Don’t be afraid to go back to a company you used to work for.
  • Get up to speed with the latest interview techniques.

Older workers want to upskill

Hands are seen on the keyboard of a laptop.
Tracey Ward doesn’t want a handout, she wants to learn new skills to improve her business.(Unsplash: Thomas Lefebvre)

While Ms Ward believes an incentive to hire young people is great, she says helping people who are mid-career would have a greater benefit overall.

“Younger people have time to try things and fail and learn from it, but it becomes more scary when you’re older and have a mortgage to pay and have no back-up plan,” she said.

“You’re very conscious of your superannuation for retirement.

“I am very proud to be a woman in my 50s, but I know women who don’t let their hair go grey because if their company finds out how old they are they go in the redundancy pile.”

Just like Ms Gulati, Ms Ward has heard employers say they don’t want to hire qualified, older workers because they are afraid they will “make waves”.

She has friends who have pared back their resumes after being told they are “too experienced” for a role.

“It’s desperate and very real for many especially women; grey-haired men are classed as distinguished and experienced whereas grey-haired women aren’t. We are not revered for our wisdom.”

Ms Ward doesn’t just want to be hired, she wants to upskill to remain relevant in the ever-digitising workplace.

“Everything is going online and into a digital space so fast and some older people are being left behind because there’s no time or money to reskill,” she said.

“I have just spent the past hour trying to work out how I record myself whilst I’m recording a presentation on the Mac, so there’s endless [challenges].”

Sometimes she laughs it off. Other times it’s overwhelming.

Ms Ward said an upskilling program where companies provide pro-bono work for older people to learn digital skills would go a long way, and be much more helpful than just being hired by a company because there’s a monetary incentive.

“I’m not talking about someone from Centrelink showing me how to do it for half an hour on video. I’m talking about someone who is at the head of their game getting a tax incentive to help me step up my business,” she said.

“And then I could employ people so it could be a win if other companies were encouraged to help people like me because I don’t have the funds to do it myself.

“I don’t want a free handbag. I want my business to be really successful. I’d happily be the pilot for it.”

Have you been rejected for a job because you are ‘too qualified’? Does the system discriminate against older Australians?

Youth employment subsidy may cause significant collateral damage.

Older workers are already losing their jobs as a result of the federal government’s JobMaker initiative, according to Ian Yates, chief executive of the Council on the Ageing (COTA).

“We are very worried,” he said. “Already we’ve seen reports of older workers being laid off so they can be replaced with JobMaker workers.”

Mr Yates said COTA, an advocate for the rights of older Australians, had heard from “several” mature-aged workers being given notice as their bosses looked to take advantage of the JobMaker subsidy, introduced during the recent federal budget to counter youth unemployment.

JobMaker aims to create 450,000 jobs for young people, who’ve been four times more likely to lose their jobs or have their hours cut during the coronavirus pandemic. It offers $200 a week for businesses to hire workers under the age of 30, who are currently on JobSeeker, receiving a Youth Allowance or the Parenting Payment for at least 20 hours per week. The subsidy is $100 a week for workers aged 30 to 35. All businesses, except for the major banks, can access the scheme, which will be available for up to a year.

The Guardian reports: “Treasury officials revealed the conservative estimated benefit of the JobMaker hiring credit on Monday, ahead of a snap inquiry likely to spark calls to legislate more safeguards to the program.”

When the subsidy was proposed, ACTU Australian Council of Trade Unions president Michele O’Neil said JobMaker had many flaws that “hadn’t been thought through”.

Ms O’Neill was concerned that older workers would be replaced by several younger ones.

“You’ve increased overall headcount and payroll, but replaced older workers with younger ones,” she told The New Daily.

“The employer will get double the wage subsidy if they employ two workers for 20 hours a week than if it was one for 40 hours. There’s no requirement for secure jobs or full-time jobs. They could hire them for a short period and replace them with another worker.”

Greens leader Adam Bandt wanted to see details of the scheme, concerned it might worsen the unemployment crisis. And Labor leader Anthony Albanese was concerned 928,000 jobless people aged over 35 would be disadvantaged.

Mr Yates sought a subsidy for older workers.

“Many mature-aged workers who are out of work due to the pandemic are facing disastrous personal circumstances. The Liquid Assets Waiting Period means they must spend their savings before they can get help: savings they will need in retirement,” Mr Yates told senior.com.au.

“Australia needs urgent action, or we’ll push a huge group, mostly women, into poverty in old age.”

Mr Yates supported the scheme but said mature and older workers were “equally vulnerable”.

He said people aged 18 to 24 and over-55s were most in need, and older people took twice as long to get a job.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that the headcount and payroll of businesses needed to be higher after they hired people via JobMaker. He said this “integrity test” would ensure older workers were not exploited.

However, there is already rampant age discrimination in employment, said Professor Marian Baird, who heads work and organisational studies at the University of Sydney.

Prof. Baird told the ABC that JobMaker provided an incentive for employers to “cherry-pick people of a certain age”.

She feared it could encourage employers to “abandon older people in the labour market”.

“So, you could substitute someone who is 40 with someone who is 22.”

Prof. Baird said it was “a recipe for casualisation” because employers were only required to hire people for an average of 20 hours a week over a quarter to qualify for the subsidy.

“Someone could work 30 or 40 hours a week, none the next,” she said. “There’s no indication jobs have to be permanent or ongoing.”

Professor Andrew Stewart, an employment law specialist at the University of Adelaide, said the scheme would be difficult to police.

Anglicare Australia’s annual Jobs Availability Snapshot found that disadvantaged jobseekers, including older workers, were competing with more people for fewer jobs.

This year, eight jobseekers are competing for each entry-level job. If all jobseekers are included, there are 106 jobseekers for each entry-level job.

There are also 1.63 million under-employed Australians who could also be competing for these jobs.

“If we’re serious about helping people, we need to create jobs that match their skills – instead of forcing them to compete for jobs that just aren’t there,” said Anglicare Australia executive director Kasy Chambers

 

Source:Yourlifechoices.com.au

Older adults offer leadership and experience, yet are often overlooked in the hiring process with HR instead focusing on millennials. That’s according to Ben Eatwell, CMO at Weploy.

Eatwell added that this is often out of a desire to “nurture the next generation of talent”, but also the satisfaction out of having a major impact on these younger minds.

“That’s quite a long way from retirement! We know diversity positively impacts innovation, culture and profits, but often age diversity has less focus.”

Eatwell said there are many advantages to employing older adults, particularly in positions where experience and leadership are needed. However, this doesn’t seem to be translating into more opportunities for older Australians.

“I think this has to do with trying to fit workers into traditional organisational structures – by exploring more agile, networked and outcome-oriented structures it can not only improve diversity but also productivity.”

Eatwell offers a few tips for HR professionals who want to boost the number of older Australians amongst their staff.

The starting point should always be a “thorough assessment of the recruitment process” to identify and mitigate where age discrimination could arise.

“One of the key traits we assess is learning agility – in a nutshell, the ability to pick new ideas up quickly,” he said.

“Research suggests that although you can make small improvements to your learning agility, it is more or less fixed and is not dependent on age.”

Consequently, choosing candidates based on learning agility can help add some objectivity to the hiring process.

From there it’s about developing a culture of lifelong learning. Mature employees have a huge amount of experience to share which can be “leveraged to increase overall productivity and morale”.

“Also I’ve seen reverse mentoring work very well, reducing knowledge gaps with both younger and more mature workers, as well as improving organisational culture.”

So what is lost by having nobody senior around?

“Often it’s the times of crisis when calm is needed, or when team morale is affected by a failed project, that age diverse workforces show critical value,” said Eatwell.

“We do a lot of ‘learning by doing’ and that includes what to do when things do not go according to plan.”

Eatwell added that leadership is a quality that is not tied to age, but the “reassurance of someone who has seen a crisis and worked through it to tell the tale” can be invaluable in making sure the right work gets done in these high-pressure moments.

Sometimes, the only senior person on a project is the boss, and employees are reluctant to confess an error that can lead to disaster if unaddressed, he added.

“Having a senior member of the workforce who can act as that neutral-confidant, and know what to do with the information, has considerable value.”

Employees from diverse ages have different experiences, perceptions and approaches when it comes to things like problem-solving, decision making and task handling, he said.

“They can also use various strategies – starting from the way they think, plan and execute tasks, which can influence operations in a more subtle, but still valuable way.”

Source:hcamag.com

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