The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry has launched a campaign for mature-wage workers alongside Business SA, as statistics show older workers are increasingly overlooked.
ACCI and Business SA have released a “call to arms” for South Australian employers to expand workforce participation, urging them to consider the benefits of employing mature-aged workers.
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Employment Participation Minister Kate Ellis launched the employers’ guide Business Case for Recruiting and Retaining Mature Aged Workers, which is part of ACCI’s Employ Outside the Box initiative.
According to Jenny Lambert, ACCI director of employment, education and training, an ageing population and low employment participation means industry needs to think “laterally and long-term” with regard to recruitment.
“Lifting labour force capacity is not all a question of government or government money,” Lambert said in a statement.
“New approaches and business leadership from within the private sector is required.”
Lambert said Employ Outside the Box encourages employers to develop “innovative strategies” to attract and retain valued employees to bolster Australia’s flagging participation rate.
The news comes after the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed almost 57,000 people over the age of 55 are unemployed – and have been for an average of one-and-a-half years.
This is in stark contrast to those aged 15-19 and those aged 20-24. Unemployed people in these age brackets are jobless for an average of 22 weeks and 27 weeks respectively.
The average jobless person in the 25-34 age bracket spends 29 weeks searching without result for work. This increases to 39 weeks for those aged 35-44, and 53 weeks for those aged 45-54.
Last week, Bill Shorten, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Financial Services and Superannuation, launched a paper on behalf of the Australian Human Rights Commission.
The paper, titled Working Past Our 60s: Reforming Laws and Policies for the Older Worker, is one of the projects of Age Discrimination Commissioner Susan Ryan.
It details how age barriers – in workers’ compensation, income insurance and licensing – block willing and able people from continuing to work through their 60s and beyond.
“Although most people want to continue to work through their 60s and beyond, they face a number of external barriers,” Ryan said in a statement.
“Recent research tells us that, of people aged over 55 years, there are about two million who are capable and want to work, but are barred from jobs.”
Commissioner Ryan said most workers’ compensation stops at 65, or soon after, and income insurance is hard to get after 60.
“This is a big barrier for tradespeople who need to insure their business and themselves,” Ryan said.
“For example, age bars in licensing stop capable vehicle drivers from getting jobs, even in the current climate of skills shortages.”
By highlighting how these arrangements affect older workers, Ryan said she hopes to create impetus for reform in state and federal government workers’ compensation schemes, and in the private insurance industry.