New Zealand unveils plan to help older workers find employment

Sector faces barriers to employment that proposals seek to address

New Zealand unveils plan to help older workers find employment

The New Zealand Government has introduced the Older Workers Employment Action Plan in a bid to help employees and jobseekers aged 50 and older to find sustainable work that fits their needs.

"This action plan acts as a blueprint on how the government can help support and encourage older people to stay in the workforce if they want or need to and supports the government's overall Employment Strategy," said Minister for Seniors Ayesha Verrall in a statement.

The plan contains action items that focus on supporting older workers to use and transition their skills to find and stay in employment as they age, supporting employers to be more inclusive of older workers, and promoting wider discussion and analysis of the effects of an ageing workforce for future economic planning.

To be more specific, the 11 actions detailed in the plan include the following:

  1. Researching and assessing the needs of older workers for training, upskilling, and vocational education, as well as the barriers to access
  2. Reporting annually how many older workers have enrolled in and completed courses with government-funded vocational education providers and what they trained in
  3. Actively engaging with older workers and make sure they can access information that will help them identify training options, prepare for work, find work, and stay in work
  4. Reviewing relevant career products to make sure that older workers are visible, and their context reflects the diversity of older workers
  5. Making sure that the needs of older workers and the barriers they face to finding work and staying employed are fully considered and addressed
  6. Reporting on how many older workers engaged with government-funded employment services and programmes
  7. Reviewing the Mature workers toolkit to ensure that it continues to provide employers with practical support to hire, develop, and retain older workers
  8. Researching incentives and barriers for employers in providing more opportunities for older workers to benefit from flexible work arrangements
  9. Researching opportunities and incentives for employers to provide greater opportunities for older workers to participate in training in the workplace
  10. Improving understanding across industry groupings and sectors of the effects and opportunities of an ageing workforce
  11. Referring the issue of the ageing workforce to the Future of Work Forum to include as a specific discussion topic on its agenda

Read more: Is HR overlooking the benefits of ageing workers?

A third of New Zealand's workforce is made up of older workers, with almost half of the population who are aged 65 to 69 remain employed.

"But we know that older workers can face unique and complex challenges in finding and staying in paid employment. Whether that's being made redundant and struggling to find a new job or having limited options when they do look for work," said Verrall.

In addition, the action plan pointed out that older workers are also targeted by age discrimination, where assumptions about them are made as early as hiring, and in the workplace, they are deprived of same opportunities for training and development.

According to the minister, employing older workers can bring their knowledge and skills to workplaces and contribute significantly to the economy.

"Keeping these people and their skills in the workforce is key to keeping our economy strong," said Verrall. "We want everyone, including older people, to have a job that fulfils their needs and aspirations and contributes to their overall wellbeing."

The plan is part of the government's overall Employment Strategy, which also comes with six other population-specific employment action plans.

"The Government wants every New Zealander who is able to be earning, learning, caring or volunteering to do so," said Social Development and Employment Minister Carmel Sepuloni in a statement.

"This approach contributes to a well-functioning labour market which in turn, helps us tackle the long-term challenges to lift the wellbeing of all New Zealanders."

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