New $5.5-million programme encourages employers to hire older jobseekers

Government cites employment discrimination around age in offering financial incentives

New $5.5-million programme encourages employers to hire older jobseekers

Western Australia is launching a new $5.5-million programme that aims to put older workers into work and incentivise employers that do so.

The Job Reconnect programme targets jobseekers who are aged 45 and above, as well as those exiting the justice system and facing barriers to employment, according to the WA government.

"Job Reconnect targets workers who may be overlooked by employers, because now more than ever, their transferable life skills, knowledge, and experience can be harnessed to fill jobs in demand," said Training Minister Simone McGurk in a statement.

With the initiative, the government is looking to ease the shortages in the construction, hospitality, and health industries, according to the statement.

Incentives for employers, jobseekers

Employers and employees participating in the programme may be granted an incentive worth $1,500.

"Employers are also encouraged to provide these jobseekers with employment opportunities, with a $1,500 incentive payment per placement with 600 places available," the WA media release said.

Employees may also apply for a $1,500 grant which will help them with work-related costs, such as licences, upskilling requirements, work clothing, transport, and childcare.

"We recognise it's not always easy making a big career change later in life, and these payments will help jobseekers with the costs associated with that, while also providing employers with an additional incentive," McGurk said.

Fighting age discrimination

In launching the programme, the government acknowledged that the most common form of employment discrimination was related to age.

A recent report from the Australian HR Institute even found that 17% of Australian HR professionals are "actively" excluding jobseekers above 65 years of age.

Previous feedback from the Perth and Regional Skills Summits pointed out that these "untapped segments of the labour force" could ease skills shortages.

"These jobseekers have a lot to offer, and by helping them into work, it will address skills shortages in key industries, as well as giving 600 Western Australians the skills and confidence to start their dream careers," McGurk said.

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