The 45-54 age bracket is the fastest growing labour market segment in Australia today, yet employers are still reluctant to actively recruit from this talent pool. Heidi Holmes asks what's going on.
The social and economic impact associated with Australia’s ageing population has been well documented over the past decade. However, with the first of the baby boomers turning 65 last year, it seems yet again we find ourselves in a reactive position to addressing some of the challenges and opportunities we face as a nation as the demographics of our population change.
Not surprisingly, one of the biggest impacts will be on our labour force. According to a recent report commissioned by the Financial Services Council of Australia “the over-60s are growing in number at approximately four times the rate of other demographic groups. At current trends, by 2050 there will only be 2.7 working Australians for every citizen over 65. In the 1970s, the ratio was 7.5 workers for each older Australian”.
However, we need not look ahead to 2050. The 45-54 age bracket is the fastest growing labour market segment in Australia today, yet employers are still reluctant to actively recruit from this talent pool.
Deloitte Access Economics, last month, released a report suggesting Australia could increase its Gross Domestic Product by $48 billion if we could find a way to boost the participation rate of workers over the age of 55 by a mere 5 per cent – an incredible proposition when you think about.
It also explains why the Federal Government has been so keen to encourage greater utilisation of this often forgotten and neglected talent pool. As a nation, there is a lot at stake.
But it’s not just the economy that stands to win. Having announced its new Jobs Bonus Scheme as part of the 2013 Budget, the Government hopes to entice employers to hire mature age workers by creating incentives. Soon, employers who recruit a worker over the age of 50 and retain them for a period of three months will be entitled to a $1000 cash payment.
The merits of this initiative have been debated in political and social circles, with some suggesting it sends out the wrong message, appearing more like ‘compensation’ for hiring a worker who could become a burden (when in fact evidence suggests the opposite is true). But when all is said and done employers (particularly small and medium business owners) should see this as an opportunity.
Here is a chance to not only get a minor cash injection, but also to recruit a worker who delivers higher retention, greater productivity, life and work experience as well a healthy dose of old fashioned work ethic.
Mature age workers bring tremendous value to organisations for a number of reasons, but as a purely economic argument, the numbers speak for themselves.
According to the Australian Human Rights Commission website, workers aged over 55 are five times less likely to change jobs compared with workers aged 20-24, reducing ongoing recruitment and training costs. Mature workers deliver an average net benefit of $1,956 per year to their employer compared to the rest of the workforce - a result of increased retention, lower rates of absenteeism, decreased costs of recruitment and greater investment returns on training.
With the Government’s new jobs bonus looming, the business case for hiring a mature age recruit has never been stronger. Australian business owners have a lot to gain by taking another look at their hiring practices, and realising that it’s not simply a case of promoting ‘age diversity’, it is a case of understanding the commercial proposition for ‘age balance’. The rewards are greater than you might think.
About the author
Heidi Holmes is the Managing Director of Adage.com.au, Australia’s leading job board for mature age workers. If you would like to find out more about the Jobs Bonus Scheme and how you can qualify for it or the mature age market, please contact Heidi directly at Heidi@adage.com.au