The 2014 Federal Budget included many new initiatives that will affect mature age workers and Seniors. Some have been received well others, others not so well like the proposed increase in the pension age to 70.
While we can sit around and debate the merit of these programs, what we can be certain of is that something does need to be done to increase the workforce participation rate of mature age workers.
Broadly speaking, the last 30 years have seen an increase in participation among Australians in their 50s and 60s. However, in more recent times, this growth has plateaued. So what does this tell us? Well, a couple of things.
Firstly, this indicates that there has been an increase in the number of people in their 50s and 60s who want and are more importantly, able to continue working into their ‘retirement’ years. They are not their parents’ generation and many intend to work beyond what their parents would have.
Secondly, it tells us there is still an underutilisation of this labour force, with Australia underperforming when compared to other OECD countries, including the UK, USA and New Zealand.
As a job board specially tailored for mature age workers, Adage.com.au, can also vouch for this ‘willingness’ to continue working. We have seen a consistent rise in our database of mature, experienced and knowledgeable jobseekers who are looking for employment opportunities. Currently, we have close to 30,000 registered jobseekers on our site.
Adage was established to provide a dedicated platform where age could be embraced and celebrated. The fact that a specialised site has resonated with so many older workers also suggests that this talent pool is finding it tough in the traditional job hunt market.
Unfortunately ageism does exist in our community and within organisations. Negative stereotypes have taken over from businesses realising the true value that exists within this workforce. However, with the 45+ age bracket becoming the fastest growing labour market segment in Australia, employers will simply not be able to sustain their workforce if they continue to ignore this demographic.
Encouragingly, at Adage, we have seen a recent increase in the number of employer enquiries and advertisements. The proposed budget announcement to reward employers of unemployed jobseekers aged 50+ with a $10k payment incentive has certainly put older workers on the radar. While these cash incentives have had little impact in the past, they do appear to help raise awareness about this very valuable talent pool.
However, what we need is large corporates and industry groups to take a leadership position and actively promote and recruit mature age workers, not just because it is a necessary thing to do, but also because it makes good business sense.
Older workers will not only reward employers with loyalty, dedication and increased productivity, the also act as great mentors for younger employees. Up to four generations could now be working within one organization. Employers therefore need to implement strategies encouraging a cohesive working environment – mentoring is one such strategy.
While connecting mature age workers with age friendly employers is Adage’s number one priority, we also remain committed to educating employers on the benefits of hiring maturity and raising awareness across the community.
In the end, age is the one thing we all have in common, so it is time that it is embraced rather than ignored.
Managing Director of Adage.com.au, Australia’s leading job board for mature age workers and age friendly employers.