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Surge of older women re-entering the workforce

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HC Online | 11 Apr 2012, 12:00 AM Agree 0
Women in their 50s and early 60s fear they cannot afford to retire and are surging back into the workforce. But how will this affect their engagement?
  • Shane Higgins | 11 Apr 2012, 03:30 PM Agree 0
    We recently did a survey of our 15,000 registered jobseekers on our job board and 50% of the respondents were women looking for work. Over 30% of our respondents said they would never retire. We notice the numbers of women registering on our job board continues to increase. The information above is great for many of those who are already in work, but a large number of these women may not have worked for quite a few years and now find themselves in the position of having to develop a CV that will get them in the door of employers. A difficult thing to do at any age, but even more so as an older worker. However, we have a database of over 1200 age-friendly employers that is growing by the day, so the word is getting out there.
  • Heidi Holmes | 11 Apr 2012, 04:09 PM Agree 0
    This story is doing the rounds in many different formats and while they are interesting statistics, are they really that surprising? We need to be selling the benefits of mature age women (work/life experience, diminishing caring responsibilities, loyalty and maturity) rather than constantly telling employers what these workers 'want'. Many just want an opportunity to be considered for a job. It is important to have strategies in place for retention purposes but there is a greater conversation to be had around the business case for employing maturity.
    I have now taken over, a leading job board for experienced workers over 45 from the original founders at SageCo and we are working hard to change negative perceptions about this talent pool. The average age of our jobseeker is 51 so language like "older workers" does not resonate with this market and only feeds into negative stereotypes.
    For business to change behaviour it always needs to be about the value for the business and in this instance, this talent pool represents a whole lot of value!
  • Pam Gulbis | 11 Apr 2012, 05:08 PM Agree 0
    I am an "older worker" and I continue to work full time and find it hard to contemplate leaving the workforce because I'm a certain age. I agree with the comments made by both Shane and Heidi and would go on to say that much more needs to be done to remind employers and senior managers of the value of this talent pool and perhaps not treat us as invisible and not able to keep up with current practices and thinking. Many of my more mature colleagues including myself really do enjoy change and the opportunity to become involved.
  • Alan Benbow | 11 Apr 2012, 06:02 PM Agree 0
    I am a 53 year old male and I also work full time and probably will for at least another 15 years, so I am an older worker too. I think it needs to be called what it is, and we are older workers. My employer is great and treats me and the other older worker with respect and offers great hours and talks to us all the time about passing on our skills to the younger workers. I'm happy to be called an older worker, its what I am and its what me and my friends call ourselves and we're proud of it. Why would it be a negative stereotype.
  • Sylvia Massara | 12 Apr 2012, 12:41 PM Agree 0
    I am an "older worker" (about to turn 50). I had to go back to full time work because my husband left me due to the fact that I fell ill and couldn't work for close to a year. Since I've started to feel better and started to look for work, no employer would look at me because I was simply too over qualified. I applied for many roles but had no luck whatsoever. Being in HR myself, I know when I’m being given the flick because of my age (some employers even tell you in a roundabout way)! Luckily, I was contacted by 2 ex-employers who wanted a HR Consultant, and I now work for both these companies and invoice them for the hours I do. The flexibility factor is a give and take situation, but it seems to be working out quite well. So this is another option for senior workers if they have skills that are in demand.

    Two huge gripes, though: I have some money to retire on as I inherited a modest amount upon my mother's death, but the government taxes me on the income I make from this money, which means there’s not enough to live on. I have to pay high taxes on what could be a passive income (and which would keep me away from the dole queue in the event that I couldn’t find work). I was very lucky that I was able to find work, and I’m forever grateful that at least my two ex-employers didn’t have an issue with my age.

    The other thing is this, I cannot stand a hypocritical government which tells us that we can retire with a pension by age 65, yet they do nothing to enforce the age-discrimination laws. They simply pay lip service to it as far as I'm concerned.

    But back to the money situation, I could have lived off my savings if the government didn't tax me so much for having a passive income. And this is something that should be considered for 50+ people, seeing as not many employers are prepared to give us the opportunity to work due to our age.

    Going back to work after 50 is really a two-edged sword if one is doing it to top up their super or to save extra money. We are taxed no matter what we do, and we seem to be perceived as “lepers” if we apply for a job after the age of 50.

    Shame on the government and shame on those employers who discriminate simply because we are older.
  • Bec | 12 Apr 2012, 04:30 PM Agree 0
    Why do we need to see older or mature workers as some kind of separate species? Instead of "older workers" or "mature workers", why can't we just refer to them as workers, as with anyone else within legal working age? Removing these alienating and stereotypical labels would go a long way to creating a more homogeneous workforce, with everyone enjoying equal rights to training, promotion, etc. I also think the media has a lot to answer for in fuelling and giving oxygen to so-called intergenerational workplace conflict.
  • Robert Langstein | 12 Apr 2012, 05:04 PM Agree 0
    Bec you clearly don't get it just like Heidi. Older worker/mature workers is what we are. I bet both of you are under 40 and have never had to look for a job as a 50 year old -homogeneous workforce please.

    I personally like "Older Worker" as it enables me to "belong" as do my older colleagues we don't see shame in being an older worker like all you younger folk think it's embarrassing for us and if we can be recognised apart from anyone else within legal working age I'm all for it.
  • Louise Bowers | 13 Apr 2012, 04:57 PM Agree 0
    Older workers need to be recognised for their experience and maturity. They have a lot to bring to the workforce that is overlooked in the recruitment process. There are many misconceptions out there about this group that sift them out of many job opportunities. Baseless assumptions that they are unable to fit into the current work team, overqualified, lacking up to date skills, too slow etc. We need to talk about this group and start taking action about it. Job ads should state "Mature age workers encouraged to apply". None of us are getting any younger!!
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