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Harnessing the ‘ageing boom’ of older workers: Easy to say, harder to do

by on March 6, 2015

This was a busy week for age at work stories in Australia. As covered here on the ABC News website, an Intergenerational Report was published which predicts that the country’s population will reach 39.7 million in 2055, and that 40,000 Australian’s will celebrate their 100th birthday that year. The Australian Treasurer, Joe Hockey, reportedly emphasised the need to harness this “ageing boom” of older workers, as well as increasing the numbers of women and young workers in paid work.

But elsewhere others were busy pointing out that this message was easy to say but much harder to deliver, for example, in the face of continuing age discrimination. This item on the website highlighted a survey conducted by Heat Group of 14,000 Australian women which found that almost half believe they had personally been discriminated against because of their age. 62% of respondents believed employers are more likely to hire a candidate under the age of 40. One woman (a 53 year old Sydney based case worker) is quoted as saying: “When you’re competing for work with younger women, who may not be as qualified, who can be paid less and have a work ethic that’s more in line with the cost-cutting measures that employers seem to have in place, then it seems a lot harder.” This echoes a theme from yesterday’s post about the Spanish bar hiring older waiters; that younger workers are equated with cost savings.

Raising pension age is being debated in Australia and the Daily Mail reports the response of the National Seniors Australia chief Michael O’Neill.  He recognised that raising the pension age was a legitimate debate but drew attention to the difficulties faced by those in their 50s who were being discriminated against now. He called on greater efforts to hire older Australians.

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