Release type: Joint Media Release

Date:

Embracing mature age workers central to future prosperity

Ministers:

Senator the Hon Chris Evans
Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Jobs and Workplace Relations
Leader of the Government in the Senate

The Australian Government recognises the imperative for businesses to retain their mature age workers, as recommended in the Deloitte report released this week, Where is Your Next Worker?

Minister for Jobs and Skills, Senator Chris Evans, and Minister for Employment Participation, Kate Ellis, welcomed the report encouraging Australian businesses to take advantage of the skills and experiences that mature age workers bring to the workplace.

"As the mining boom continues to stimulate the economy, Australia will need more skilled workers - from welders and electricians to scientists and accountants," Senator Evans said.

"That’s why the Government has invested a record $3 billion into skills and training under the Building Australia’s Future Workforce package."

To ensure Australians have the opportunity to up-skill and re-skill during this time of economic transition, the Government’s $110 million Skills Connect package will provide workers with the training they need to transition from sectors which are experiencing structural adjustment to sectors in which skilled labour is in strong demand.

"Job creation is one of the key benefits that our country will enjoy as a result of the mining boom – jobs that will last far beyond this period of historic investment," Senator Evans said. "We cannot afford to risk the benefits of the mining boom by simply not utilising our existing workforce more effectively. Employers must take advantage of the skills of their retiring workforce."

Ms Ellis said that 2011 was the year in which the first of the baby-boomer generation becomes eligible for the aged pension. "The time for talking about the future ageing of our population is over – it is happening now," Ms Ellis said.

"The willingness of Australians to work for longer is a strength that we need to harness and ensuring that mature workers are properly supported is central to addressing the challenge of an ageing population. "The ageing labour force, combined with skills shortages, means it is more important than ever to encourage experienced employees to stay in the workforce."

The Government is providing incentives for pensioners to keep engaged with the labour force, with an improved Work Bonus allowing them to earn up to $250 per fortnight more before their pension is affected. This will provide an additional $25 million to age pensioners in 2011-12.

The Government has a number of initiatives in place to help employers manage an ageing workforce:

  • Through Experience+, employers can draw on more than $70 million in support to help them re-train and retain mature age workers;
  • The new Investing in Experience Employment Charter outlines nine best practice principles to help employers prepare for an ageing workforce;
  • The Government is also providing one-on-one assistance to a number of employers who have agreed to become Corporate Champions and to demonstrate leadership in this area; and
  • The Government’s Consultative Forum on Mature Age Participation will continue to provide advice on future initiatives to support mature age workers and their employers.

The Government recognises that skilled migration is also part of the solution. That’s why the Government’s 457 visa program is entirely demand-driven and uncapped, supporting Australian businesses meet immediate, short term labour demands that cannot be filled locally.

While millions of jobs have been lost in Europe and the United States, the Australian economy has added around three-quarters of a million jobs since Labor came into office in 2007.

"This reflects Labor’s strong economic credentials, creating jobs during the global downturn, and managing the challenges presented by the mining boom as skills shortages start to emerge in sectors with strong demand," Senator Evans said.

For more information on Experience+ www.deewr.gov.au/experienceplus