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Work till you Drop? The Future of the Labour Force in Australia

by on February 10, 2014

Unless you suffer from insomnia, readers in the UK are unlikely to chose to participate in this webinar on the Future of the Labour Force which is going to consider the opportunities to enhance workforce participation of mature age workers in Australia. It takes place at 1pm AEST which a handy online converter tells me is 3 am GMT!

Readership of our blog is pretty international though with Australia and New Zealand in 3rd and 4th places in the ranking of views per country (after the UK and the USA).

For background to the webinar, this item on the Australian Ageing Agenda (a bimonthly online magazine) gives some details. Interestingly, one of these is the difference between the position of older workers in Australia compared to New Zealand. According to the article, New Zealand’s employment rate in 2011 for those aged 65 to 69 on the OECD older workers scorecard was 38.1 per cent compared to Australia’s 25.2 per cent.

Professor Judy McGregor, head of the School of Social Sciences and Public Policy at Auckland University of Technology, will discuss at the webinar how New Zealand became an OECD leader in the area of longer paid working lives.

She is quoted as saying there were several reasons why New Zealand had been successful in attracting and retaining older workers in paid work, including:

– legislation: New Zealand was an early adopter of age as a ground of employment discrimination in equality legislation, via the New Zealand Human Rights Act 1993.

– broad cultural norms and Indigenous cultural considerations: specifically, attachment to the principles of a ‘fair go’ has meant a fairly open-minded employer mindset and also the concept of retirement apparently doesn’t feature in the thinking of many Maori elderly people.

– financial compulsion (this may resonate in the UK): specifically for women in lower paid, contingent work, because of marriage breakdowns, loss of financial assets in the global crisis or the inability to save for retirement.

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