In an effort to make sure there are employment opportunities for older workers, a new incentive payment will be introduced from 1 July 2014.
The government’s Seniors Employment Incentive Payment will provide up to $3,250 to employers who take on eligible mature job seekers – those who are aged 50 and over, have been unemployed, registered with Centrelink and receiving income support for six months or more.
Once the person has been employed continuously for six months, the employer will receive the payment in instalments during the following six months.
This is an opportunity to create job opportunities for an important demographic, said adage.com.au owner and managing director Heidi Holmes.
“I think as a society, it really needs to be on the agenda because we’re jumping ahead of ourselves in thinking about 70-year-olds, the issue actually starts at the age of 45, when it becomes difficult for mature-age workers to find employment and that is reflected in unemployment statistics as well.
“From the age of 55, the average length of unemployment is 72 weeks which is effectively a year and a half. If we want workers to be staying in the workforce until 70, we need HR leaders and recruiters to start educating employers about the benefits of hiring maturity to ensure we’re addressing this issue a lot earlier in these people’s careers.”
She said employment opportunities need to exist for the 45-plus market, to enable them to keep working until they are 70 if they want and are able to.
“We need these people contributing to our economy, saving their superannuation, earning an income so they can be an important consumer as well. Currently they hold more than 50 per cent of the nation’s wealth, so we need to be having a conversation with this market.”
Some of the benefits of hiring mature workers include:
“Particularly in an industry or part of a business that might have a high turnover, strategically if organisations were to target mature-age workers, they will reward you with greater loyalty and are shown through statistics to stay with their employer for two and a half times longer than someone under the age of 30,” said Holmes.
Holmes said there are myths about mature workers being reluctant to use technology, adapt to change and work with younger people.
“These are just negative stereotypes that people have basically made up. If you look at the 45-plus age group, the internet has been around for 30 years. These people have been adapting to change and using technology throughout their career. Through not just work experience, but life experience, they’ve got that broader perspective.”
Learning and development
“If you have a 45-year-old worker, they potentially have another 20 years in the workforce so learning and training opportunities are very important to them,” said Holmes.
“If you are going to invest in training and development, they are going to reward you by staying with you for longer so they actually offer a better return on investment.”
What do you see as the benefits and challenges of an older workforce?
If the government decides to raise the pension age to 70, Australians will be staying in their jobs longer than most other workers in the world.