Have you experienced age discrimination in the workplace or while looking for work? Post your comments below….
If you think that age discrimination is not a thing then its time to think again. With Australia’s population beginning to age the challenge of how to manage the workforce is becoming more apparent. Within the coming decades more than 25% of us will be over the age of 65 and for those considering retirement they may already have that sinking feeling and be asking the question “can I afford to retire.”
A recent study undertaken by the University of South Australia has also found that discrimination is no longer the domain of the fifty up group – apparently people as young as forty five are feeling the pinch. The institution surveyed 2,100 men and women over the age of 45 as well as conducting more than 100 telephone interviews. One of the key findings was that many people felt there were negative assumptions about older workers such as skills, learning, abilities and cognition. These findings are in lock step with Australia’s Human Rights Commission in 2016 who found that 27% of Australians over the age of 50 had experienced age based discrimination. The Age and Disability Commissioner Susan Ryan said that;
“That survey revealed more than a quarter of Australians aged 50 years and over had experienced age discrimination in the workplace during the past two years. One third were aware of other people in the same age range experiencing discrimination because of their age. Of great concern, a third of those who had experienced age discrimination gave up looking for work.”
“It is unthinkable that people who lose their jobs in their 50s may live up to another forty years without paid employment.”
International comparisons by the OECD show Australia lagging behind similar countries in terms of employment of older people and people with disability.”
Ms Ryan also sounded a warning that workers engaged in industries that were in decline could be at risk of being left behind: “Most workers at mid-life need a retraining opportunity so that they can secure an available job in a growth industry. The current gap in reskilling opportunities for mid-life workers, particularly those in declining sectors like manufacturing, condemns many able and experienced workers to years of poverty on benefits.”
Justine Irving of the University of South Australia believes that more needs to be done to keep older workers employed:
“The Government is trying to reduce dependency on the aged care pension be encouraging workers to stay in the workforce longer and accumulate sufficient superannuation. Employment in high quality work can support and protect the health of men and women as they age. But adults who feel devalued in their workplace, or unable to find suitable employment, are most likely to enter retirement earlier than anticipated and less inclined to re-enter the workforce.”
“One way to tackle work related ageism is to firstly address negative perceptions regarding the competency of older workers.
And this is where there are plenty of myths when it comes to retaining, training and hiring older workers.
Myth one: it costs more to hire an older worker because of their experience: 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.
Myth two: Mature age workers are more prone to illness: ABS reports show that the current life expectancy is 78 years for men and 83 years for women – a two and three year increase respectively since 1994. A 2005 ABS survey found the proportion of Australians aged 55-64 reporting their health as ‘good’, ‘very good’ or ‘excellent’ was 75.5% – an increase of four per cent since 1995. A 2006 ABS survey found that mature workers were the least likely group to take days off due to their own illness or as a carer. In the two week period prior to the survey nearly half the number of mature workers had days off compared to workers aged 25-34. ABS data indicates that mature age workers are less likely to experience work-related injuries compared to younger workers.
Myth three: Mature aged workers aren’t much good at adapting to new technologies: ABS data shows that Australians aged 55-64 are the fastest growing users of information technology.
Some of the key findings of the Australian Human Rights Commissions report:
People aged 55 years and over make up roughly a quarter of the population, but only 16% of the total workforce. We know from the 2015 Intergenerational Report that this age cohort is the fastest growing in Australia, and will remain so for the foreseeable future.
Labour force participation declines with age. In November 2015, 73.8% of Australians aged 55–59 years were participating in the labour force, with 56.5% of 60–64 year olds and 12.7% of those aged 65 years and over in the labour force
Older people face longer periods of unemployment. In November 2015, the average duration of unemployment for mature age people was 68 weeks, compared with 30 weeks for 15–24 year olds and 49 weeks for 25–54 year olds
In the Australian Human Rights Commission’s 2015 National prevalence survey of age discrimination in the workplace, 27% of people over the age of 50 reported experiencing age discrimination at work. A third of those who had experienced age discrimination gave up looking for work.
In 2014-15, 70.9% of complaints made by people over the age of 45 about age discrimination to the Australian Human Rights Commission were in the area of employment.
Information sources: the Australian Human Rights Commission / the University of South Australia
About the author: Matthew Tukaki s the Host of Talking Lifestyle: Second Career across the Talking Lifestyle Radio Network, is Chairman of the global entrepreneurs movement, the EntreHub and Chairman of the global news distribution business, NewsNow. Matthew is formerly the head of one of the oldest and largest recruitment companies in the world, Drake, and is Chairman of Australia’s National Coalition for Suicide Prevention.
Don’t forget our elders can suffer in silence too: suicide prevention
Many people think that mental health and suicide are not topics that impact our elders but they could not be more wrong. The data tells us there continues to be an emerging trend when it comes to peop...
Wherever you look these days, not matter the developed country, whole population groups and peoples struggle with the daily grind of life. From children in state care to mental health, from affordable housing to the primary health system and from education to employmen...
For the last few years I have been fortunate to have been involved in the aged care sector and have seen both the lows and highs. Today we live in a world where most of us are living longer thank to more awareness around healthy living, the advancement of better medica...
You can’t go past a news paper, radio show or television news story these days without being flooded by all things Bitcoin or Crypto Currency. Some say it’s the new world of money while others suggest its all just a passing fad. Whatever your position or preference of...