The Challenges and Opportunities of Australia’s Ageing Workforce
For the first time, Australia is experiencing the effects of an ageing workforce. In fact, the Australian Human Rights Commission estimates that by 2050, a quarter of Australians will be aged 65 years or older.
With the average retirement age being pushed back later and later, more older Australians are participating in the workforce than ever before. With this ageing workforce comes new challenges as well as some exciting opportunities.
What is contributing to Australia’s ageing workforce?
Some of the reasons for this include:
Opportunities for an ageing workforce
Mature-aged workers present enormous potential to the Australian workforce and economy, with some of the opportunities including:
Improved company and economic productivity:
According to a Deloitte Access Economics report, a 5% increase in workforce participation from Australians aged 55 years or older could add $48 billion annually into the economy.
Greater experience and expertise:
As older Australians have been in the workforce longer, they will typically have greater expertise and experience under their belts. This can help to fill skill gaps and train younger workers.
Loyalty and work ethic:
Older workers are five times less likely to change jobs than workers between 20-24, cutting down on recruitment and training costs as well as providing long-term benefits to the company.
The benefit to mature-age workers:
By participating in the labour market for longer, older Australians can enjoy increased incomes and savings to ensure their comfort in retirement. Staying in the workforce for longer also helps to improve health outcomes while reducing the strain on the health and welfare systems.
Challenges of an ageing workforce
As this is an unprecedented situation, considerable challenges are also sure to pop up.
Some of these include:
Age discrimination is a barrier that many older Australians face, with negative attitudes towards older workers including the perception that they will produce lesser quality work, be unable to learn new things, and be resistant to change. In fact, a third of older Australians report facing age discrimination while employed or searching for employment.
Rapid technological changes:
It may be difficult for some mature-aged workers to adjust to the ever-evolving nature of technology, especially if they are re-entering the workforce after a long time.
While 75.5% of Australians aged 55-64 report their health as “good”, “very good” or “excellent”, there are still some ways in which workplaces may still need to accommodate to the needs of older employees.
Solutions to create an inclusive, robust workforce
There are a number of ways companies, training institutions and younger workers can help to create an environment which is inclusive of older workers. These include:
The increased participation of older Australians in the workforce offers great benefits to the workers themselves, companies and the economy as a whole. By addressing the above challenges, we can create a more highly-skilled and inclusive workforce with national benefit.
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