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Close consultation with older workers needed

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HC Online | 09 Nov 2011, 12:00 AM Agree 0
A significant challenge facing Australia is the ageing population, and the challenge has led policy-makers to consider how older workers can be kept in the workforce.
  • Shane Higgins | 10 Nov 2011, 03:15 PM Agree 0
    I own and run www.olderworkers.com.au - the only national job board in Australia that links older workers specifically with age-friendly employers; that is jobs specifically for older jobseekers and certainly they are a very diverse group. One of the issues in the past has been that this cohort has been considered homogenous, when indeed they are not. Their level of skills varies enormously, whether they want to continue working or not, whether or not they want full, part time or casual work only and whether they want to use their skills or downgrade to a job with less pressure. One thing is for certain, many of them do want to continue working in one form or another, but are not being considered for positions.
    On the other hand we have hundreds of employers that are looking to have a workforce that includes the experience, loyalty and problem-solving abilities that older workers have. We recently did a survey of our 14,000 plus registered jobseekers and it clearly showed that over 50% of them were seeking full time employment, so any employer that excludes the over 45's from the selection process risks excluding high value candidates.
    The low literacy/numeracy skills some older workers have are no more an issue than low literacy/numeracy for Gen X and Gen Y. Research indicates that this is not a major issue in this cohort, except possibly for those with a non-English speaking background. The benefits of older workers far outweigh any disadvantages, and all recent research confirms this is the case. The government needs to actively promote older workers and the benefits of the work skills and life skills they bring with them.
    The issue of retention of older workers is a whole other subject, with recent research showing that many companies have no strategies in place to retain their older workers. If they don't put into place effective and appropriate retention policies there is a high risk of losing these valued employees, and replacing them and their knowledge will be extremely difficult.
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