Older employees have less days off, are more loyal to their employer, and on average stay in their job 3.7 times longer than younger workers. Unfortunately, the contribution to the workplace by seniors is often undervalued, discrimination is rampant, and older Australians struggle for twice as long as the young to find gainful employment. However, many seniors aren’t ready to be put out to pasture just yet, and are upskilling to improve their employment chances.
Research highlighted in The Australian has valued the contribution of Australian workers older than 45 at $65.7 billion per year, and includes informal care for the elderly and volunteer work that adds $16.3 billion to the economy. Much of the work performed by older Australians takes the form of giving back to the community, an approach that can only be taken if they themselves have benefited from lifelong employment and some financial stability. If Australians nearing retirement are refused employment, or give up trying to find work, this massive care burden will fall on governments and the young.
Initiatives are underway to give older Australians a choice. While some people may feel past their prime in their 60’s or 70’s, others are ready and raring to take up new challenges. A ‘Willing to Work’ inquiry launched last month, headed by Age and Disability Commissioner Susan Ryan, aims to shine the spotlight on workplace discrimination and encourage business leaders to understand Australia’s changing demographic.
“Research by Deloitte shows that increasing the older workforce by 5 per cent would bring an extra $48 billion annually to Australia’s GDP,” Commissioner Ryan said at the announcement.
Meanwhile, the National Seniors Australia organisation is taking matters into their own hands. They are encouraging seniors to access fact sheets on career planning, education and training to upgrade qualifications that will enhance employment prospects. The Age Management Toolkit provides information about career options, training providers and financial study assistance.
Older Australians are eager to embrace new paradigms in communication and work, but are often intimidated when in an environment of younger computer and digital savvy people. The National Seniors Learning, Education and Training fact sheet is designed to help older Australians in many ways, including:
- Communicate digitally
- Update computer and technology skills
- Gain employment that is less physically demanding
- Change careers
- Get a pay increase
The fact sheets are a valuable resource and a step-by-step guide to choosing a career, selecting a suitable course and accessing a learning mode that fits in with other commitments. Many resources are included, along with information about learning institutions such as TAFE, university, adult and community organisations plus volunteer groups.
According to Michael O’Neill, chief executive of National Seniors Australia, “It’s time to forget the birth certificate and focus on the resume!”