Posts Tagged “olderworkers”

As populations age, it’s not only old dogs who will learn new tricks

14 AUG 2014

It’s time to look at the opportunities to be gained when society and business focus on Gen Wise as well as Gen Y
It’s time to look at the opportunities to be gained when society and business focus on Gen Wise as well as Gen Y
In deepest Bavaria a very different production line is showing how the future may pan out for factory workers everywhere. Every employee is age 50 or above and, while that’s hardly ancient, their employer has put in place measures to make their work more effective.

Recently the powers-that-be at BMW worked out that within five years every worker on their production lines would be aged over 45 and it was likely this would slow production.

The carmaker went into overdrive implementing simple low-cost changes, such as workplace physiotherapists, Pilates classes, rest rooms and ergonomic chairs so workers could sit rather than stand. Productivity rates were raised and absentee numbers fell to the existing company average – at times it was even lower.

It’s no secret that populations in developed countries are getting older at an unprecedented scale. In Australia alone, 1.8 million people will be aged over 85 in 2050. One in four people will be aged over 65 by 2056.

While quintessential Baby Boomer rock star Mick Jagger sang “what a drag it is getting old”, it doesn’t have to be if society, governments and businesses everywhere respond in a timely manner.

“[Population ageing] is the demographic climate change of our time,” says Emily Millane, the sprightly 31-year-old principal research fellow at think tank Per Capita’s longevity and positive ageing project.

Still Kicking – its first report of three – looks at the many opportunities arising out of this demographic shift, from increasing our health and wellbeing as we age, strategies for lifelong education and training, and the world of work and retirement.

People have to get off their backsides and want to get out and do something about it.
–Everald Compton CPA
“The [Australian] Human Rights Commission released a report last year around age-based stereotypes and they found that 92 per cent of businesses and employees reported that the most likely place for age discrimination to happen was in the workplace,” says Millane.

“On the flip side, they commissioned some research by Deloitte that found an increase of 5 per cent of paid employment by people over the age of 55 would result in a A$44 billion impact on the economy every year.

“So there’s a real incentive to have older people in work.”

CPA Australia chief executive Alex Malley also sees major upsides.

“This is the new frontier, and given all the fear mongering about the problems of coping with an ageing population, we haven’t yet recognised the true battlefront of how we can make Australia’s demographic future work for both the national as well as the individual good,” he says.

The Australian Government is proposing to offer businesses a A$10,000 incentive if they employ a worker over the age of 50 who has been on government benefits for more than six months. But Per Capita’s Millane is a little sceptical about its efficacy.

“The government is thinking in the right way in terms of encouraging employers to keep older workers on, but I would like to see something a bit more strategic than one-off payments, which can be seen as a reward for having an ‘oldie’ on board,” she says.

Millane sees the need for a major cultural shift in attitudes to ageing.

“As this bulge of the Baby Boomers moves into old age there may come a tipping point where businesses realise that they are going to have to deal with this. As with all cultural shifts, it’s so systemic and it takes time, but I do think having big companies on board will help with the shift.”

Per Capita has partnered with the Panel for Positive Ageing, which lost its funding when the new Australian Government came to power in November. With National Seniors joining the fray, and crowd-funding, individual and corporate donations, the panel has been able to keep working and will release its Blueprint for an Ageing Australia in September.

“It’s about how we can turn ageing into an asset and this blueprint gets down to the mechanics of the policies that have to happen,” says Everald Compton CPA, the panel’s 82-year-old chair.

Compton is keeping the Blueprint’s final policy suggestions close to his chest but says there are very specific recommendations in health and wellbeing, work, retirement incomes, technology and business opportunities in an ageing market.

“We are going to email it to members of every Australian parliament, every mayor in the country, as well as all the ASX companies, major not-for-profits and healthcare companies,” he declares.

“We will also run a campaign to encourage people and businesses to do something about it.” Beyond government, “people have to get off their backsides and want to get out and do something about it,” Compton says.

A decade ago Singapore-based advertising marketer Kim Walker had an epiphany on his 50th birthday. When he did some soul-searching he realised the ad industry had effectively ignored mid-lifers.

“I thought here’s an opportunity: I can be the one-eyed man in the land of the blind,” he reflects.

Walker created the Silver Group, a consultancy focused on the over-50s market. Recent clients include a global hotel chain that’s looking to become more age-friendly and a caustic chemicals and explosives company with many machine operators who will soon be in their 60s. He has conceived age-audit tools for clients and is set to launch an age-friendly app on the iTunes store.

That’s where most companies get it wrong: they think if it’s for old people they have to make it look like it’s for old people.
– Kim Walker, Silver Group
Walker has also co-authored the book Marketing to the Ageing Consumer (Palgrave Macmillan) with UK-based age marketing specialist Dick Stroud. They argue that, just as with any other age segment, “you can’t apply broad brush statements”. But what unites all older people globally is changing physiology.

The pair has isolated 25 physical changes that influence how people behave as they get older.

“They are not only the things that companies need to understand to accommodate and adapt to those changes, but each presents massive business opportunities,” notes Walker.

There’s a fine line between appealing to an ageing market and blatantly selling products for old people.

“That’s where most companies get it wrong: they think if it’s for old people they have to make it look like it’s for old people. I’m going to be 60 next year and if anyone thinks of me as an older person I walk away,” comments Walker.

“Most of us will. We know how old we are, but we don’t want it rubbed in our faces.”

Is this why Baby Boomers, the “older young”, prefer hiking poles to walking sticks and Nikes to orthopedic shoes?

“Everyone knows they are not about to run the 100 metres,” quips Walker.

He observes that financial companies are leading the field in providing the right service and message, understanding that older customers prefer to deal with people their own age. Marketing messages need to be uplifting, he believes, because Boomers across all cultures tend towards optimism.

Agile tech behemoth Apple is also ahead of the game, offering the best all-round “age-friendly” service, according to Walker. In its advertising, Apple tends to feature people in an intergenerational setting. Its website is clear of pesky flash and animation clutter. Products in stores are at waist height. There’s somewhere to sit, and staff on the shop floor and in after-sales service are helpful.

And let’s not forget Apple’s intuitive products.

“The iPad has been used in the last two US presidential elections in retirement homes to allow people, who have no experience of computers, to register a vote,” says Walker.

Boomers, Gen X and their juniors have grown up in a world where design matters to consumers. A standout in this area is US kitchen gadget company OXO. Started by 66-year-old Sam Farber, whose wife loved cooking but had arthritic hands, Oxo’s range of kitchen implements are loved by chefs and home cooks of all ages.

BMW’s Dingolfing, Bavaria plant has been optimised for older workers
“Now I’ve spoken to people who say, ‘Oh I’ve got them in my kitchen. If I knew they were for older people I wouldn’t have bought them’,” reports Walker.

“Farber’s age-friendly gadgets understand the challenges of an older physiology but are beneficial to everyone. Today Oxo is a massive business globally and a beautiful example of how design will influence change.”

Attitudes to ageing
Have you heard the one about the man in China who took his 74-year-old mother on holiday by pushing her wheelchair for 93 days to a tropical tourist destination in the Yunnan Province?

This is not a joke. It was hailed in China as the best example of filial piety in years. On the flip side, there’s the 77-year-old who sued her daughter and son-in-law for neglect. A Chinese court ruled the couple had to visit her regularly and pay her compensation.

Respect for the elderly has been integral to Asian societies, particularly in cultures where the Confucian ethic of filial piety underpins much of family life. But this is changing, particularly in China, with the population shift from the countryside to the cities.

“The older folks have been left in the countryside, while the kids have moved to the cities and have got on with their lives free from the yoke of family,” says Kim Walker of the Silver Group.

Last year, the Chinese Government passed a law, the Protection of the Rights and Interests of Elderly People, requiring children to visit elderly parents once a year. Its nine clauses lay out the duties of children and their obligation to tend to the “spiritual needs” of ageing parents.

It’s been estimated that by 2030 China will have more people aged over 50 than the entire population of the US. Even now its cohort of over-60s make up 44 per cent of the population.

“China is going to get old before it gets rich,” notes Walker.

“Unfortunately there are a lot of older people in China who are desperately poor. Most grew up at the time of the Cultural Revolution and they have not accumulated wealth, whereas the 40-plus are the ones that have caught this latest economic wave.”

There are now incentives, via a government investment fund, to encourage foreign aged care groups to move into China to open retirement homes.

Efforts are underway throughout Asia to provide programs to care for the elderly and frail, and initiatives to encourage everyone to stay fit and healthy into old age.

This focus on the self might be key, particularly in more sophisticated markets. Walker’s research into retirement attitudes in the region shows that among older people in Taiwan and China, the focus is firmly on helping the next generation, while Singapore and Hong Kong are more akin to the West, where Walker says, “the attitude to retirement is, ‘This is my time.’”

Bodies of evidence
Medical research and pharmaceuticals are fields where ageing presents wide open opportunities.

Dr David Sinclair first rose to global recognition with his research on resveratrol, a compound that impedes the ageing process. In laboratories at the University of New South Wales and Harvard University, Sinclair’s research is leading to drugs that look set to combat the ageing process and could be widely available in 10 years.

“The principle behind it is that we can activate everybody’s natural defences against diseases,” Sinclair explains.

“Ten years ago we discovered seven genes in yeast cells that extended the life of the cells by about 30 per cent.” He says the drugs aren’t only for the elderly.

“I suspect they will be used in the young and middle-aged to treat diseases that they have, and prevent others from developing as people grow older.”

In the laboratories six-month-old mice (their equivalent human age is 30) have been benefiting from treatment.

“The mice can run twice as far on a treadmill and they are immune from the effects of obesity so they don’t suffer from the effects of heart disease or diabetes or even cancer until much, much later,” says Sinclair.

Accounting for aged care
Accountants can play a vital role in advising on the new complex web of aged care options introduced in Australia on July 1.

“It’s a complicated sector with a lot of noughts,” says Dr Henry Cutler, director of health economics at KPMG.

The average accommodation bond per individual is about A$250,000 and the first A$154,000 of the family home’s value is now included in the assets test for determining how much a resident pays for their care. The distinction between high care and low care has been eliminated and now all individuals can choose to pay for accommodation through a refundable accommodation deposit, daily accommodation payment, or a mix of both.

Although there will be increasing transparency, non-supported residents and their families will still face a complex choice when determining their accommodation payment type, given potential impacts on the pension, co-contribution to care, investment income and taxation, says Dr Cutler.

Assyat David, director of Aged Care Steps, a consultancy that advises the advisers on this sector, says: “Aged care has always been considered a health issue, not a financial one, and it’s actually both.”

The finance professionals’ target client is more likely to be the children of an aged person requiring care.

“With the over-85s, their biggest asset is their home and it’s really making decisions on whether to keep the home or sell it, and if you sell it, then a decision needs to be made as to how much to put towards repayment of care,” says David.

Decisions will impact on the aged pension and have implications on facility fees to be paid and any future income the individual may receive. There are also implications for estate planning.

Advisers should help clients to understand how different options stack up, says David. But it’s important for advisers to remember that they are generally dealing with families going through grief, which makes emotional intelligence a vital part of their skill set.

Further reading
Access the following CPA Library items online at

“Old is Gold”, The Business Times (Singapore), 17 Mar 2014
“Bringing Balance Back” by Tonya Turner, The Courier-Mail, 24 Nov 2007
“Improving with Age” by Amanda Griffiths, The Safety & Health Practitioner, 2007
Contact CPA Library on 1300 737 373 or email

This article is from the August 2014 issue of INTHEBLACK.

Posted by Judy Higgins on 2 July 2014

When it comes to CVs, less is more says Judy Higgins, co-founder of website Older Workers.

Applying for a job, if done properly, is a time consuming task. And, sending out generic applications en masse will risk your brand, your reputation and the likelihood that you’ll be seriously considered for a job.

Employers and HR staff can pick a generic application and cover letter very quickly and will disregard it just as quickly. Our employers tell us if the applicant hasn’t got the right attitude with their application, and is not prepared to put in an effort, then that will likely carry through to their work. On that basis they won’t consider that applicant.

The message from employers and HR staff is clear: take the time to tailor your CV and cover letter for the particular job you are applying for; and address the specifics in the job advert in terms of ‘must have’ skills and experience. Also, if there is a name and contact number, give the person a call and talk to them about the job, so that you are very sure about the needs of the company and how you can show you are the best applicant.

I understand if you are with Centrelink there is a requirement to apply for a minimum number of jobs within a certain period of time, and in some instances this could lead to quantity over quality. But if you are serious about applying for specific jobs, then you must put in the time and effort to ensure you give yourself every opportunity to sell your skills. More is not better when it comes to applications, particularly in a buyer’s market – which it is at the moment.

The importance of a tailored CV should never be underestimated. Jobseekers need to quickly realise their CV is the tool that will, or won’t, give them the opportunity to get face-to-face with the employer. Quality wins over quantity every time when it comes to job applications.




 Aug 13, 2014 (Morning Edition)

Germany recently lowered its retirement age from 65 to 63 for longtime workers, a move Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government says is aimed at easing the burden on older Germans in the workforce.

But the decision is not popular with German businesses or with governments in struggling eurozone countries, which accuse German officials of hypocrisy. They say it’s wrong for Germany to demand sweeping cuts in their countries while Merkel’s government beefs up benefits at home.

And that’s in contrast to the U.S., too, where benefits for early retirement at age 62 have steadily decreased and the retirement age has been steadily increasing from 65 to 67.

So far, more than 50,000 German workers have applied for the new chance to retire two years early. Among them is Robert Buerger from Stuttgart.

The one-time auto body assembler at Daimler-Benz who now heads his union shop says he will have worked 48 years when he turns 63, and that he’s earned the right to start a new chapter in his life.

“I love to travel, especially in a motor home. And naturally I’m looking forward to having the freedom to decide how I spend my time,” he says.

The German government estimates some 240,000 people are eligible for early retirement under the new law.

Labor Minister Andrea Nahles called it a matter of justice for people who’ve worked nonstop since their late teens and paid into the state pension system for at least 45 years.

Like Buerger, most of those eligible to retire early have demanding physical jobs.

But the new retirement package their government is rewarding them with isn’t cheap. German officials estimate it will cost $6 billion this year, a figure that will jump to $15 billion per year by 2030.

And it’s not just the German taxpayer who will feel the pinch. Businesses will also suffer, says Judith Roeder. She is deputy managing director of the Middle Class Federation, which represents some 230,000 medium-sized businesses, one-quarter of which expect to lose workers because of the new law.

Roeder says besides increasing what employers and employees pay into the pension system, the new law makes a growing shortage of experienced workers in Germany much worse.

That’s because the population of Germany is rapidly aging, and there simply aren’t enough young people to replace retirees.

Critics accuse the government of playing politics. They point out that Merkel has pushed for an increase in the overall retirement age. But in this case, her government agreed to lower it for one class of workers at the request of the Social Democrats who joined her government and are seeking to reward their voter base.

Early retirement will not even benefit disabled and impoverished older workers who need it most, Roeder explains. They haven’t worked enough years to qualify and can’t afford to quit because early retirement would reduce their pensions, she adds.

Supporters of early retirement, like Hans-Juergen Urban, an executive board member of Germany’s Industrial Union of Metal Workers, says younger workers are also criticizing the new law.

Urban says that’s because the government has signaled that it plans to gradually raise the overall retirement age to 67. When that happens, they say, the new early retirement age of 63 will inevitably be increased to 65.

Back in Stuttgart, Buerger waves off concerns about the early retirement law driving a wedge between the generations.

He says he’s talked about it with younger workers at his plant — including one of his sons — and that they support the new law.

Buerger says younger employees are hungry for the chance to move up the career ladder as more seasoned workers like him leave.

Source NPR News  13 August 2014

This week’s unemployment data caused quite a stir, with some observers making a hasty link between the number of Australians joining the jobless queues, and the number of migrants still pouring into the country.

Monash demographer Bob Birrell led the charge, arguing in the Fairfax press that “… the number of overseas-born persons aged 15 plus in Australia, who arrived since the beginning of 2011, was around 709,000. Most of these people are job hungry.

“According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics Labour Force Survey, 380,000 of these recent arrivals were employed as of May 2014. Over the same three years, the net growth in jobs in Australia is estimated by the ABS to have been only 400,000.

“This means that these recent overseas-born arrivals have taken almost all of the net growth in jobs over this period. They are doing so at the expense of Australian-born and overseas-born residents who arrived in Australia before 2011.”

Yikes. Pull up the drawbridge. Sound the alarms.



Well not quite. Drawing a direct link between migration and jobless numbers is far more problematic than that.

The motivation for Birrell’s line of attack is clear, and quite worthy – namely that we have a youth unemployment crisis, and an under-employment crisis more generally, with welfare benefits putting an increasing burden on the federal budget.

All quite true. All very alarming.

However the matching up of the jobless numbers with the immigration numbers paints a false picture.

More importantly, this kind of assertion can easily be mis-used by populist political forces to stir unrest in the community and unfairly paint migrants as a burden on the economy when they are nothing of the kind.

The logical disconnect is found when one considers what kinds of job openings exist, where they are located and the willingness of ‘pre-2011’ Australians (to use Birrell’s distinction) to take them.

The two charts below reveal a lot about the distribution of work around the country, and the trends in the amount of work available overall since the beginning of phase one of the GFC in late 2007. (Note that the final two quarters of the second chart rely on population estimates, as the ABS has not yet published March and June 2014 figures).

The first chart shows only how the gross number of hours worked in each state has grown in the past seven years. WA seems to be romping along, just ahead of the NT, with both being well ahead of the clustered Queensland, Victoria and NSW.


Graph for We need more migrants in a crisis, not less


However, this picture is misleading, as it does not capture population movements. WA’s population, for instance. has grown an astonishing 21 per cent in seven years, which means its nation-beating growth in hours worked is spread across a population that is 445,000 people larger.

The second chart, therefore, shows how the number of hours of work available averages out over a state’s population. Tasmania, as will surprise few, has a far lower number of hours worked per resident each month (60 hours) compared with WA (82 hours).

Graph for We need more migrants in a crisis, not less


That’s not surprising as WA is still enjoying the jobs created by the construction phase of the resources boom (though that will moderate in the months and years ahead).

Most interesting, however, is what Tasmania was doing just three years ago when its average hours worked per resident was continuing to slide – from about 65 hours at the start of the GFC to 62.5 hours in April 2011.

Even without taking population movements into account, the total monthly hours-worked figure (see first chart) showed no increase through the four years of GFC.

So what was the Tasmanian government doing at that time? It was, in fact, running roadshows around recession-ravaged Ireland, hoping to recruit a range of skilled workers to start a new life in the Apple Isle.

As Business Spectator reported at the time, Tasmania was looking for workers in “medical and allied health, engineering, hospitality, urban and regional planning, agricultural science and metal fabrication and trades such as automotive mechanics, plumbing and electrical”.

Were they mad? Surely they could have recruited thousands of such workers from Melbourne, Sydney or Perth?

Actually, no.

Angela Chan, national president of the Migration Institute of Australia says that’s just not true. Employers in regional and remote Australia find it extremely difficult to fill positions with workers who have families, homes and lives in our capital cities – cities that house the unusually high figure of 85 per cent of our population.

MIA is the umbrella group for migration agents in Australia, so there is an element of “they would say that wouldn’t they” – especially as Scott Morrison begins investigations into how migration visas have been misused or rorted in the past few years.

However, the explanation Chan gives gels exactly with stories many regionally-based MPs have told this columnist over the years – it is sometimes easier to employ Korean workers or recently arrived refugees in Alice Springs hospitality jobs than Australians. Or to employ Iraqis to pick fruit in Shepparton, for instance.

The allure of such roles for established Australians is just not there – as evidenced by the Gillard government’s rather fruitless attempts to coax youngsters out of capital cities with bonuses and relocation payments.

What makes a direct link of migration and jobless numbers most worrying, according to Chan, is that towns that don’t have medical staff, accountants, engineers or other skilled workers are hobbled economically – the businesses that would otherwise employ the low-skilled, or even many other classes of skilled workers, don’t get going.

Viewed in this context, it can be argued both that we have a huge unemployment problem to solve, and that it will only be made worse by choking off skilled migrants who are just as prepared to set up house in Bendigo or Mount Gambier as Melbourne or Adelaide.

That is not to argue the all skilled migrants are wanted or needed – just that there are good reasons to keep the flow higher than many would assume in hard times (An awkward time to mention migration, July 8).

The government will have a hard time explaining that to voters, however, as the body set up to advise on such subtleties, the Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency, was one of the first agencies it scrapped on coming to power.

But there is a lot more to the migration-jobs nexus than meets the eye.

Source:  Business Spectator

Author:  Susan Ryan

Susan Ryan, Age Discrimination Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission, calls on insurers to design new, accessible and affordable products tailored to older Australians.

Whether they’re contributing to the workforce, volunteering their time, or travelling the world, older Australians are an active bunch and increasingly so. Yet all these activities may involve risk, and with risk comes the potential need for insurance.

In my role as Age Discrimination Commissioner, I hear many stories from older Australians who have had trouble securing affordable insurance or finding any suitable insurance product at all. A lack of insurance has limiting and negative effects for older Australians.

Income protection insurance often cuts out at age 65, yet many older Australians are capable and want to work well beyond that age.

It was announced in the recent budget that by 2035, Australians will not be eligible for the age pension until they turn 70, so working to that age will become the reality for many. Also, organisations that rely on volunteers buy group insurance, but it may not cover older volunteers. Travel insurance premiums increase with age, but it’s important that they are not so prohibitively high that older Australians would be tempted to travel uninsured.

Failing to provide insurance to older people or charging higher premiums is not necessarily unlawful discrimination. The Age Discrimination Act, which is the general protection that all people have against discrimination on the basis of age, has an exception for insurance. Insurers can discriminate based on age as long as the difference in treatment is based on actuarial or statistical data, or is otherwise reasonable.

Despite this exception, I have been making the case to the insurance industry that better, more accessible information about available insurance products should be provided. In addition, I can see a strong business case to be made to insurers to design new products that are tailored to seniors, and are accessible and affordable.

While the industry is considering these messages, the voice of older Australians who themselves are seeking a good deal on insurance products add to my advocacy. Older Australians can shop around for insurance and find the best product available to them.

Finally, if you think you have been discriminated against by an insurer, you are still able to make a complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission, who can investigate and attempt to resolve your complaint.

You can get further information by calling 1300 656 419 or visit the Australian Human Rights Commission website.