Posts Tagged “Restart”

A new report has found that older Australians and casual workers of all ages have a higher likelihood of being laid-off, and struggling to find new jobs.

The report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development(OECD) also found that a significant group face a decline in job quality, often moving from permanent to casual jobs. One in three people earn less than what they used to.

Most of the laid-off workers have limited access to re-employment support and only a moderate number receive “early and more intensive employment services through structural adjustment programmes”.

The report released recommendations for the federal government to help vulnerable workers find good jobs quickly by:

  • moving away from the current sectoral approach to special assistance programs in case of mass layoffs towards an approach covering all sectors of the economy, with the intensity of intervention varying according to the workers’ needs
  • introducing pilot schemes in a few areas to test the delivery by job active providers of intensive employment services adapted to the needs of laid-off workers
  • expanding the training component in programs for laid-off workers and making use of skills assessment and individual training counselling to target training more effectively
  • strengthening employers’ responsibilities for workers they are laying off by instituting a longer notice period in case of mass layoff, and ensuring that notification to Centrelink is enforced so that authorities can respond more quickly
  • considering the introduction of a mechanism to publicly support firms putting workers on short hours, for example through publicly-funded training places or temporary subsidies to prevent excessive dismissals during cyclical downturns.

The document also reported that 2.3 per cent of Australian workers with at least one year of employment are laid-off each year because of downsizing or closures.

However, it noted that due to Australia’s flexible labour market, 70 per cent of unemployed workers found a new job within a year, and 80 per cent within two years.

Source:  Pro Bono Australia

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

Source:  Australian Ageing Agenda


The Federal Government has clawed back more than $41 million worth of false claims by private employment agencies in just the past three years.

The agencies are contracted by the Government under a privatised welfare-to-work program called Job Services Australia (JSA), a sprawling $1.3 billion-a-year scheme designed to get the unemployed into work.

A Four Corners investigation has found rorting of the scheme is rampant. Forgery, manipulation of records and the lodgement of inflated claims for fees are widespread.

One former agency employee said he had seen “thousands” of jobseeker records doctored by his agency to support suspect claims against the taxpayer.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions of dollars, have been recouped at times by the department.

Rupert Taylor-Price

The managing director of a private employment agency told Four Corners: “There are incentives to be involved in sharp practices from a financial and performance perspective.”

“We had to do the same thing [because] everyone was doing it,” the source said.

“The Government does not want to expose the whole industry.”

Three years ago a top-level inquiry into just one type of fee found spectacular rates of failure, forcing cancellation of that particular fee and prompting industry-wide ructions.

Ominously, the inquiry noted that just 40 per cent of the claims it examined could be confirmed by documentary evidence, or by the testimony of jobseekers and their employers.

The Abbott administration has made some changes to the scheme that take effect mid-way through this year.

But critics say these changes will do little, if anything, to stop widespread gaming of the contract.

In a statement, Jobs Australia said: “A significant portion of the recoveries [were] volunteered by providers who [needed] to rectify minor administrative mistakes.”

But added that “while there [were] legitimate concerns about some aspects of the policies”, more than a quarter of job seekers found a job and exited JSA within three months.

“This is despite the fact that the system is incredibly complex, with a confusing payment model and thousands of pages of rules that must be interpreted and applied by the individual staff who work day in, day out, with people who are unemployed,” the statement said.

The not-for-profit organisation said the new employment services contract would reduce the scope for incorrect claims by simplifying payments.

“With rising unemployment, Jobs Australia believes there needs to be a more flexible arrangement that is firmly focused on getting people back into work – but also with strong checks and balances.”

Only one in 10 enjoy ‘better chance of gaining employment’

The ABC has learned that fraud investigators attached to the Department of Employment have launched probes into many of the major agencies contracted to the program since its inception in 1998.

For-profit companies, including the market leader, Max Employment, have been investigated for particular allegations, as well as well-loved Australian charities including the Salvation Army.

There are a variety of means by which the contract is exploited.

The ABC is not suggesting that any particular agency is engaged in the full range of rorts, or other means by which the contract can be optimised.

But despite a long parade of whistleblowers detailing allegations of the misappropriation of taxpayer funds by some agencies, and highly questionable practices by others, the government has declined to detail instances where it has ever sanctioned any single agency operating under the scheme.

But what the department does is only reclaim those from the failures it finds. So even if you are going to put in claims that have a failure rate, you’re still going to have a lot of them not found and keep the money … there’s still an incentive to make the claim.

Rupert Taylor-Price

In one case to be examined on Four Corners, investigators were forced to shelve their inquiries when they discovered a departmental official had explicitly told the agency that it could still collect fees for services the Government knew had never been delivered.

Rupert Taylor-Price, whose company provides software to Job Services Australia providers, says the scheme is being routinely “optimised” to the detriment of jobseekers.

“Hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions of dollars, have been recouped at times by the department,” Mr Taylor-Price said.

“But what the department does is only reclaim those from the failures it finds.

“So even if you are going to put in claims that have a failure rate, you’re still going to have a lot of them not found and keep the money … there’s still an incentive to make the claim.”

He says he believes only one in 10 participants in the program enjoy “a better chance of gaining employment”.

The program was created 17 years ago, when the Howard government effectively privatised the Commonwealth Employment Service (CES).

The new policy created a pseudo-marketplace of jobseekers who were forced under Centrelink’s rules to attend private agencies, which would be paid to find them work.

Since then, more than $18 billion has been spent on the welfare to work program – first labelled Job Network, and now known as Job Services Australia.

It has been a cheaper scheme than the CES, but critics say it has also been far less helpful at assisting long-term unemployed people back into work.

‘You can’t make people search for jobs that aren’t there’

Academics and experts have repeatedly pointed out the glaring paradox at the heart of the program: how can these agencies have any impact on the unemployed when the number of jobless far outstrip the number of job vacancies?

“[The welfare to work program] patently hasn’t worked,” said Professor Bill Mitchell, director of Newcastle University’s Centre of Full Employment and Equity.

“It’s an impossible task … there’s not enough jobs to go around. You can’t make people search for jobs that aren’t there, and that’s the dilemma of the whole system.

“We’ve had a demand-side constraint – not enough jobs – and all this vigorous energy and money being poured into a supply-side initiative as if that’s the problem.”

Periodically, the jobs program has been mired in scandal. A major Productivity Commission inquiry in 2002 made adverse findings about the program, including that the long-term unemployed were being “parked”.

Just three years after Job Network was launched, one prominent job agency was accused of shovelling thousands of people into phoney jobs.

In what has become a pattern, a subsequent inquiry cleared the agency of fraud but demanded the repayment of thousands of dollars.

Insiders have told Four Corners that department managers have been reluctant to tighten up the program’s governing contract to prevent blatant rip-offs.

“It’s absolutely vulnerable to exploitation,” said a former senior departmental investigator.

He said he had significant doubts about the will of successive governments to root out the fraud perpetrated against the contract.

“The department was more interested in getting its money back [than sanctioning agencies] … it’s very politically-driven,” the former investigator said.

The Department of Employment provided figures to Four Corners which showed that millions of dollars are routinely recouped from agencies, as a result of audits, self-identification by agencies and other “program assurance activities”.

In 2011–2012, $8.34 million was recovered.

The figure spiked to $23.81 million the following year after the inquiry into one particular type of fee.

And last year, another $9.12 million was reclaimed.

A department spokesman said typical repayments by agencies amounted to “less than 1 per cent of the amount paid each year”, and said it had “robust systems” to detect inappropriate claims for fees.

He would not answer a series of specific questions about past or current investigations conducted by the department.

“In cases of suspected fraud, matters are referred to agencies such as the Australian Federal Police and Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions,” the spokesman said.

“Since 2006 the Department has made 38 referrals to the appropriate authorities.”

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Age discrimination in the workforce is rampant, says a Gold Coast lawyer.

MATURE age workers are being exploited by unscrupulous Gold Coast business owners in record numbers.


According to leading legal figures the number of mature age workers seeking advice over illegal and demeaning treatment at the hands of employers has reached record numbers.

Litigation director with Gold Coast firm Parker Simmonds Solicitors and Lawyers, Bruce Simmonds, said he had at least 20 mature age workers suing their former employers for unfair dismissal.

He said age discrimination in the workforce was as rampant and cruel as ever and he believed the year ahead held no relief for mature age workers who felt they were treated like slaves.

“They are all late 50s or in their 60s, made redundant from previous jobs and needing to stay in the workforce,” he said. “There are agencies that score thousands of dollars in government incentives to place these people in new jobs but too often the new jobs are a nightmare for the worker.”

Mr Simmonds said there were ostensibly respectable Gold Coast companies hiring older workers but privately paying bare minimum wages and imposing unfair working conditions.

“If the worker complains, they are sacked or threatened with the sack, knowing it can be hard for older workers to find a new job,” he said.

“Intimidation is used to silence them. Older workers are the people with the least rights in the workforce and generally the unions can’t or won’t do anything to help them.

“Part of the problem is the mindset of younger bosses who can’t relate to older workers or have no respect for them.”

Many younger bosses can’t relate to older workers.
Mature age workers can be a golden asset for an employer.

Mr Simmonds said distressed clients stated they were often treated with disrespect by younger bosses, treated like idiots or given menial tasks either to persuade them to resign or because the boss did not trust them with more responsibility.

“It’s tragic because mature age workers can be a golden asset for an employer. They have a long-term work ethic, tremendous workplace experience and a professional attitude to their job. They could teach their bosses a thing or two about personnel management.”

Mr Simmonds expects the problem to get worse as an ageing population is forced to work longer before pension age.

Manny Palma, of the Gold Coast Community Legal Centre, said his organisation was seeing the same issue.

“We identified it to be such an issue we put our hands up for extra funding for a specialist employment position,” he said.

“It is a burgeoning area and, while we missed out on funding for a fulltime position, we still have one lawyer who basically does 80 per cent employment law.”

Mr Palma said the centre had easily a 30-40 per cent increase in the numbers of mature age workers seeking advice: “We have a lot of mature age workers being turfed out of jobs with their positions ostensibly being made redundant but then the position is readvertised with a different title but the same duties.”

Source:  Gold Coast Sun

A federal government plan to boost mature-age employment has fallen spectacularly short of its target.

A government plan is offering older job-seekers little assistance. Photo: Shutterstock

The Restart scheme needs to be restarted. That’s the verdict of the Department of Employment, which is set to overhaul the wage subsidy program, designed to get older Australians back to work, from November 1.

Introduced in the 2014 federal budget, the $524.8 million Restart scheme offered up to $10,000 over two years to employers willing to take on workers aged over 50.

The original target was to secure work for 32,000 mature-age jobseekers every year, but enquiries made by The New Daily to the Department of Employment reveal that the scheme found jobs for just 2318 people during its first 15 months.

The employment situation only got worse for mature-age workers after the launch of the program – in the year to January 2015, there were 80,000 unemployed Australians aged 55 and over, an increase of 12 per cent over the year before.

The Human Rights Commission’s National Prevalence Survey of Age Discrimination in the workplace found 27 per cent of Australians aged 50-plus indicated they had experienced some form of age discrimination in the workplace in the past two years.


One such mature-age worker struggling to find a gig is 61-year-old Michael Oates, who worked in work health and safety for local government in Adelaide until he lost his job three years ago.

He was told by recruiters his 40 years of experience in the area was a disadvantage not an advantage, and after applying for dozens of jobs in his field of expertise without so much as an interview, he started to believe them.

Mr Oates then started applying outside his area for any kind of work at all, and didn’t even hear back from employers advertising casual low-skill roles.

“Because you don’t hear anything, you almost give up,” he said.

“You think – what’s the point?”

Mr Oates, who currently keeps himself busy by volunteering with DOME, a mature-age recruitment service, is in a particularly competitive environment: South Australia, where unemployment is easily the highest in the nation.

The latest unemployment figures show the state’s jobless rate hovering at 7.9 per cent.

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 30: A general view of the Holden manufacturing plant at Elizabeth shows the company logo on July 30, 2013 in Adelaide, Australia. Holden, a subsidiary of American car giant General Motors recently reduced its staff in Adelaide by 400, in an effort to reduce operating costs. Holden and other local car manufacturers have received years of both federal and state government grants, and PM Kevin Rudd recently said he was "...determined to see this industry survive into the future." (Photo by Morne de Klerk/Getty Images)

South Australian Council of Social Service (SACOSS) executive director Ross Womersley told The New Daily the idea behind the government’s wage subsidy program seemed good, but he is concerned at how it has worked in practice.

“It is incredibly regrettable,” he said.

“On the back of the performance so far, I’d be tempted to call for a review [of Restart], some development of insight as to why it isn’t attracting the interest that it should.

“Is it simply employers don’t know about scheme, or that employers don’t rate it?

“Or is there something in the mechanisms of administration that make it difficult and cumbersome to deal with?”

He said wage subsidies gave mature-age workers a chance to prove themselves, but expressed concern that workers might be pushed out of their existing jobs if the money stopped coming in.

What’s on offer?

The Restart program was originally due to be reassessed in June 2016, but under former employment minister Eric Abetz it was announced in the 2015/16 budget that changes would be brought in well ahead of that date, aiming to increase take-up and reduce complexity for employers.


From this coming Sunday, employers will be able to access the subsidy of $10,000 over 12 months instead of two years.

Rather than waiting out a qualifying period, employers will be able to start receiving the subsidy from the moment the mature-age worker starts work, receiving up to $6500 over a 12-month period and a bonus of up to $3500 for employment which lasts the full 12 months.

There are also special provisions to be introduced for employers taking on 10 or more mature-aged workers to co-ordinate payment times with the costs of group training and induction programs.

The half-a-billion dollars in funding for the Restart scheme has been moved into a single wage subsidy pool of $1.2 billion over four years, shared with three other employment incentive schemes.

System vulnerable to exploitation

When the revamp was first announced COTA (formerly Council on the Ageing) chief executive Ian Yates expressed concern that the pooling of wage subsidiary budgets could see the money allocated for mature-age workers spent elsewhere.


He slammed the lack of other measures to address age discrimination, as well as the requirement that the funding only apply to mature-age workers who have been out of a job for at least six months, and the shortening of time over which employers could receive the full wage subsidy.

“We are concerned that this could lead to some employers churning older employees on short contracts so employers benefit from the incentive but the workers become unemployed again,” he said.

The wage subsidy program is not the only action being taken on mature-age workers, with the Attorney-General having ordered a national inquiry into discrimination against older and disabled workers.

The inquiry is currently undertaking a series of consultations and roundtables around Australia, with the next stop in unemployment hotspot Adelaide on November 2.

Source:  The New Daily

Ron Di Giorgio in his home in Newcastle, NSW

Walk into Ron Di Giorgio’s house in suburban Newcastle and the first thing you’ll notice are the knick-knacks and curios covering every flat surface of the house: the kitchen table, the coffee table, even the stairs. There are samurai swords, art deco signage, a gramophone, vintage children’s toys. Ron says he’s always been a collector, but after losing his job 12 months ago, he now has to sell some of his collectibles as a source of income.

“I’m not looking to make a huge amount of money on stuff, I just want to turn it over and make a little bit,’ he says. “That’s what keeps me going.”

Di Giorgio, 52, has worked for over 30 years as a maintenance electrician. For the last 10 years, he did contract work in the mining and manufacturing sectors. However, when the last project he worked on was cancelled, all the contractors on the job were sacked. Since then, it’s been a struggle for him to find work.

“It’s not for a lack of trying,” says Di Giorgio, who estimates he’s sent out over 250 resumes in the last year. “I started off really pushing for work but after eight or nine months of doing that, I was over it. I’m just sick and tired of doing it, because there’s no one out there who wants you. I haven’t had one call back,” he says. “It’s depressing. It gets to you.”

Di Giorgio is on Newstart, but it doesn’t cover all his expenses. Selling his collectibles at the weekend markets and doing odd handyman jobs for family and friends are the only things keeping him afloat.

“I keep the bills away. That’s all I do. The dole, the $250 a week, that’s my house loan and little bit left for petrol. I have no money for food and no money for bills,” he says.

Di Giorgio has a partner, Judy, but they don’t live together. Judy works part-time and is on a pension. She looks after Di Giorgio by making him dinner every night but it’s difficult for her to support the both of them. Di Giorgio also has two daughters, 22 and 18. While they’re adults, both still need to occasionally rely on him for support as they study and begin their careers.

“They still need money, they still need help. You don’t lose that responsibility. That’s another stress that goes onto you, you sort of feel like you’re not doing your job, by not looking after them.”

The unemployment rate in the Hunter Region is the highest in NSW, at almost 12 per cent, with Newcastle and Lake Macquarie sitting at 8.4 per cent. “The number of people getting sacked at the moment is just incredible, especially electrical,” says Di Giorgio.

Disadvantaged by age

Di Giorgio thinks his age puts him at even worse disadvantage in this already tight market. “When I was in my 20s or 30s, I could pick up a job next week. These days I don’t even get asked,” he says.

As part of the requirements for Newstart, Di Giorgio has had to apply for jobs outside of the electrical field that he may also be eligible for. Recently Mission Australia, a Job Services Australia provider, called Ron with an opportunity to do some labouring work on a residential building site. He accepted. However, later that day, they called him back to withdraw the offer, saying the employer thought he didn’t have enough experience.

“What experience do you need to shovel a bit of dirt, really? They look at the fact I’m 52 years old. They want young blokes who are fit, who will break their backs for them. Maybe I won’t. They don’t know you until you work for them, until they give you an opportunity,” he says.

The stress and pressure of looking for work has taken it out of Di Giorgio. After 12 months of looking for full time work, he’s all but given up. “I don’t care anymore. If I make a bit of money here and there just to live, that’s enough. I’ve given up looking for work, because I know there’s none.”

Di Giorgio says he would happily work for at least another 20 years if he was given the opportunity. “It’s a joke, talking about retiring people at 68 to 70 years old. That’s wonderful if you’ve got a job that’ll take you there. But most people won’t have a job that will make it that far.”

Barriers for people over 55

Tim Adair

A 2014 study by the National Seniors’ Productive Ageing Centre found that 96 per cent of people aged 55 to 59 who were retrenched ended up retiring. One cannot assume that these people would have retired anyway. The figures seem to reflect the difficulty of finding work at this age.

“The average number of weeks for an unemployed person aged 55 and over to find work is 67 weeks, while for an unemployed person aged 15 to 54 it’s just 38 weeks,” says Tim Adair, director of the Productive Ageing Centre.

“There are certainly a number of barriers that people over 55, or even younger than that, face when looking for work.”

Those over 55 are the most likely demographic group to face long-term unemployment in Australia. From a global perspective, fewer 55 to 64 year olds work in Australia than in the US, UK, Canada and New Zealand.

Discrimination on the basis of age is one major barrier to workforce participation. A recent study by the Australian Human Rights Commission found that over a quarter of Australians aged 50 years and over had experienced some form of age discrimination in the last two years.

Discrimination was most likely to occur when looking for paid work. Nearly three in five job seekers reported being discriminated against and of that figure, a third then gave up looking for work.

Susan Ryan

“It’s very clear that subjecting people to any kind of prejudicial behaviour and attitudes day in and day out will certainly destroy their sense of morale and their capacity to be productive workers,” says Susan Ryan, the Age Discrimination Commissioner of Australia.

The Human Rights Commission’s study found many employers and recruitment agencies told candidates they were too old for the job, despite the fact it is illegal to do so.

However, indirect or subtle forms of exclusion were most common, such as candidates being told that they are “over-qualified” or being the butt of jokes about their age. Other forms of discrimination, such as not considering candidates at all, are harder to measure.

Ageism rife in recruitment

Both Susan Ryan and Tim Adair note that the recruitment sector, in particular, is notorious for ageism.

“I’ve had conversations with recruiters who say, ‘we’re only sending employees under 50, because we know that’s what the employer wants’. Then when you discuss that with the employer, they will say ‘no, we didn’t send that instruction’,” says Ms Ryan.

Another study by the commission found commonly held stereotypes about older workers were that they were inflexible, unmanageable, short-tempered and forgetful.

Attorney-General George Brandis requested the Human Rights Commission undertake a national inquiry into employment discrimination on the basis of age. The inquiry, called Willing to Work, is part of a larger plan by the government to address the economic challenge of the ageing population and promote increased participation of older Australians in the labour force.

According to the 2015 Intergenerational Report, by 2055 the number of the population over the age of 55 will more than double. This has implications for tax, infrastructure and services. However, these potential strains on the economy are predicted to rectify themselves if older workers continue to participate in the workforce.

The focus on increasing older people’s economic participation is not without warrant. Modeling by Deloitte Access Economics for the Human Rights Commission has shown that a 5 per cent increase in workforce participation for workers over 55 would contribute an extra $48 billion to Australia’s GDP.

“The business case for looking at experienced workers is very strong. If you’re excluding people who’ve turned 50 or 55 just because of their age, then you’re excluding a lot of talent, a lot of experience, a lot of corporate knowledge,” says Ryan.

“We bring in many overseas workers on working visas of one kind or another and yet we have this huge pool of experienced workers who are being left out of things.”

Government initiatives

As part of a push to boost the number of older workers, successive federal governments have sought to raise the pension age. Current law will see eligibility lifted to age 67 by 2023 and the current Federal Government has proposed it be raised to 70 by 2035. This will see the need for many to remain in the workplace for longer than they would have previously.

Ryan sees the need for these changes. However, she warns of dangers to the taxpayer if employers’ attitudes towards older workers don’t change in line with it.

“If you lose your job in your 50s and never get another one, you could spend 40 years or more living on government benefits; first the unemployment benefit and then the age pension. And if you’ve stopped working at that age too, then you are unlikely to have substantial superannuation, particularly women. It’s a very grim outlook,” says Ryan.

In 2014, the Federal Government introduced a wage subsidy called “Restart”, offering $10,000 over two years to employers who hired employees over 50. The employees must have been unemployed for over six months. By April 2015, it was reported that only around 700 people had been employed through the scheme. As part of the 2015 budget, the Government will shorten the amount of time to receive the subsidy to one year.

Ryan says the Restart program has the right intention and that $10,000 could be quite attractive to small and medium size business. However, she says that money would probably make no difference to larger corporations.

“I’ll be interested to hear from employers whether they see a case for wage subsidies or tax incentives. I’m not at this stage convinced that’s the direction to go in,” she says.

Ron Di Giorgio says that the Restart incentive is aimed at the wrong target. “I reckon they should give that money to me, so that I can retrain to get another job. It’d give me an opportunity to find other work. I can’t get work in my industry because there’s none,” he says.

Di Giorgio says there is lots of work available for truck drivers. However, the cost of sitting for a heavy combination licence is around $2000. He says he’d be interested in getting into the rail industry, but he can’t do that without a Rail Safety Induction card, which costs $250. While that may not seem like much to some, it’s more than Di Giorgio has spare.

“For the opportunity to try a job, you’ve given up every bit of money that you’ve got. You can’t risk that. I’m not prepared to risk that,” he says.

Ideas to bring about change

A skills program is one proposal that Ryan plans to put to government as part of the Willing To Work inquiry. The proposal, called Checkpoint, will allow those over 50 to visit a TAFE or vocational training institute to get a skill assessment. Ryan says this will be particularly helpful with future career planning for those who may need to change sectors in order to continue working as they age. This may include those who may need to move to a less physically demanding job or move out of an industry where jobs are becoming scarce, such as car manufacturing.

“I think if we had a concentrated effort at midlife and made it easy and straightforward for people to have a look at their own retraining needs, we’d see a much better result,” she says.

Through the Willing to Work inquiry, Ryan will also receive other ideas for proposals from employers and labour market specialists about what really needs to change. The inquiry was due to report on its finding midyear.

“Having a job in our sort of society is an absolute building block for having self confidence, economic independence, networks of friends, a sense of person and a sense of making a contribution,” says Ryan. “We value jobs. We say that everyone has the right to work. And if people don’t have jobs when they want to work, you can see the devastation that they go through.”

However, what it will take to change employers’ attitudes about hiring older workers remains a million, or indeed, billion dollar question.

Source: Australian Ageing Agenda

 / JUN 16, 2015

Forget Gen Y, female baby boomers are the changing face of t...

The number of older Australians participating in the workforce is rising, with an increased number of Australian women working past the age of 55, according to research from the Melbourne Institute of Applied Social and Economic Research.

The study comes off the back of the Intergenerational Report, which recently highlighted the ageing workforce and the importance of employers taking older employees into consideration.

The wide-ranging research, titled Two Decades of Change: The Australian Labour Market 1993–2013, shows the number of both men and women in the workforce over the age of 55 had increased significantly in the last two decades.

In particular, it showed a sharp rise in the number of women aged 60-64 still in the labour force, jumping from 15.2% in 1993 to 45% in 2013. The number of women aged 55-59 working in 2013 had hit 65.3%, from 36.8% in 1993.

Likewise, the number of men aged 65 or older working or looking for work doubled in the two decades to reach 17% in 2013, while the number of those aged 60-64 had increased from 48.3% to 62.5%.

Roger Wilkins, who co-authored the report with Mark Wooden, told Smart Company the swell of older Australian women participating in the labour market reflected a broader societal shift in female labour force participation.

“Twenty years ago, older females had very low participation rates, so there was an enormous amount of scope for change there,” Wilkins says.

“Twenty of thirty years ago, younger women began heading into career-type employment… Those women are now aged 50 to 60, so a lot of the increase is reflecting that.”

Wilkins says the steadily increasing age of pension eligibility over the past 20 years is also reflected in the research.

Asked if this ballooning of an ageing workforce will continue, Wilkins says while it is speculative, there is “certainly still plenty of room for a further increase of older workers”.

“I would be surprised if it got up to levels [in other brackets], but there is considerable scope for a further increase in the participation rate of 55 and over,” he says.

Meanwhile, Nikki Brouwers, chief executive of workplace rehabilitation and health specialist group Interact, says the research is a reminder for small businesses to consider employing older Australians. Brouwers recommends employers consider several ways of attracting and retaining an older workforce.

“Firstly, employers need to consider the flexibility of work hours. Older workers will often want to work earlier and finish earlier,” she says.

“There’s also the consideration of learning styles. Online learning for example might not be the best approach for older workers.”

Lastly, Brouwers says there are other issues such as ergonomics, lighting and movement that employers should take into account.

“What small business employers need to realise is they don’t need to be experts, they just need to engage with their workers, because at the end of the day, they will be best able to articulate what they need,” she adds.

This article first appeared at Women’s Agenda sister publication, Smart Company.

Rachel Kent, a former IT consultant, volunteers to help other seniors in Sydney. Picture:

Rachel Kent, a former IT consultant, volunteers to help other seniors in Sydney. 

The employment of Australians aged 45 and older is said to be worth $27.4 billion each year, through reduced human resources costs.

A new study shows that workers older than 45 help reduce turnover, bringing down recruitment and training expenses, and also serve as a valuable source of informal care while giving back to the community through volunteer work.

Research funded by the Nation­al Seniors Productive Ageing Centre puts the economic value of these contributions at $65.7bn per year, providing a “significant offset” to perceived sustain­ability issues posed by an ageing population.

The findings, to be released by National Seniors Australia, suggest that a worker aged 45 will remain with an employer 3.7 times longer than a younger worker.

The paper also shows the contribution of Australians aged 45 and older in providing informal care for the elderly or those with disabilities is $20.5bn, while the value of those caring for their grand­kids is estimated at $1.5bn.

The involvement of mature-aged Australians in volunteer work is valued at $16.3bn per year, with data showing that 1.6 million people older than 45 volunteer in some capacity for an average of 6.09 hours per week.

Rachel Kent, a 69-year-old pensioner who lives in the inner-Sydney suburb of Surry Hills, gives her time to help senior citizens devel­op their computer skills, use emails and navigate the internet.

Ms Kent is a former IT training consultant and says she is happy giving her time to help others, particularly older Australians and women who need to update skills upon re-entering the workforce.

“I would like to help older people because they can feel so isolated if they are not using a computer and today with tablets it’s really so much more simple,” she said.

“It was something I always had in mind in when I was working.

“I also like to help women who want to go back to work for whatever reason.”

Roy Stall, a 71-year-old former naval officer, also volunteers up to six days a month at the Maritime Museum in Fremantle and is still active in Asia as a specialist in maritime English.

“I think we make a contribution to the economy,” he said. “Our economic contribution is not often appreciated and certainly what we can contribute back to the community is not necessarily valued in the corridors of power.’’


Source:  The Australian

Australia’s jobless figure fell by 0.1 percentage points in February after a shock rise in January.


The rate of unemployment fell to 6.3 per cent in February, down from 6.4 per cent in January, spelling some positive news for Australia’s floundering economy.

There are now 777,300 unemployed jobseekers in Australia, a decrease of 15,800, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The number of employed people, meanwhile, now stands at 11,652,400 an increase of 15,600.

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The ABS said the increase in employment was driven by increases in both full-time (up 10,300) and part-time employment (up 5,300). The employment rate increased for both men and women.

The figures also revealed that the labour force participation rate decreased to 64.6 per cent in February 2015, from 64.7 per cent in January 2015.

The collective number of hours worked in February went up by 13 million hours to 1,620.8 million hours, a 0.8 per cent increase.


Source:  The New Daily

Evidence of discrimination against older workers at Centennial Coal will be presented to the Senate Economic References Committee for the Inquiry into the Privatisation of State and Territory Assets and New Infrastructure in Sydney, today.

(Image on the right) Catherine Bolger and Belinda Giblin, Collieries Staff and Officers Association standing behind Same Dastyari and Jacquie Lambie at today’s Senate Inquiry.

IMG_0404The Collieries’ Staff and Officials Association (CSOA) will present evidence that shows the negative impact privatisation has had on local jobs and older workers, particularly in rural and regional communities.

Collieries’ Staff and Officials Association Director Catherine Bolger said the experience of workers at Centennial Coal, brought into “sharp focus the implications and problems that stem from privatisation”.

In 2006 the former State-owned Powercoal mines were bought by Centennial Coal (owned by Banpu, a Thai company). Centennial have denied full redundancy entitlements to employees close to and over 60 years of age, on the basis of their age.

Ms Bolger said, “Centennial is the only company in the coal mining industry that denies full redundancy entitlements to employees based on age.

“There is an obvious conflict between Government policy and what this company is doing. On one hand, the Federal Government is telling people that they need to work to age 65 for the benefit of the country. Yet, on the other hand, Centennial Coal is denying workers their entitlements because they are over 60 and forcing them to access their superannuation early.

“These workers will have smaller superannuation, exhaust savings earlier and will need to rely on Government assistance – all of which is the opposite of what the country needs.

“In rural and regional areas, privatisation has reduced the number of jobs, particularly for older workers. These workers are the human collateral of privatisation and this situation is important evidence for the Senate Inquiry to hear,” said Ms Bolger.

“In the case of Centennial Coal, privatisation has resulted in its profits leaving Australia and its workers being discriminated against. Last year Centennial reported $213 million in profits, at the same time their older workers face a poor old age.

Centennial Coal workers affected by the discrimination are owed between 30 to 56 weeks salary, many having worked for the company for over 30 years.

“The experiences of these workers show the long-term and devastating impact of privatisation can have on individuals, but more broadly, these experiences impact rural and regional communities and their economies.

“We are calling for a review into the effects of privatisation on older workers and rural and regional communities, to ensure no-one else has to go through what these workers and their families have gone through.

“It is absolutely essential that the long-term effects of privatisation are understood and mitigated before any decision to sell assets is made,” said Ms Bolger.


Source:  Professionals Australia