Increasing the number of mature-age people in the workforce will be critical to Australia’s prosperity and its ability to fund public services in the future, Assistant Minister for Employment Luke Hartsuyker said today.
Speaking at a Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) forum in Melbourne, Mr Hartsuyker said the Government’s Intergenerational Report revealed the number of Australians aged 65 or older is projected to more than double by 2055.
Over the same period the number of people aged between 15 and 65 will halve as a proportion of the population.
“The structural ageing of our population is one of the key policy challenges for our country because it affects so many aspects of our daily lives,” Mr Hartsuyker said.
“It impacts on our economy, our labour market, as well as our superannuation, health and welfare systems.
“Australia needs to boost overall participation, and lifting mature-age participation will be – and must be – a critical component of that effort.”
Mr Hartsuyker said the solution depended on workers, employers and government working together.
“The economic and social challenges of population ageing cannot be addressed by any one sector alone,” Mr Hartsuyker said.
“Last week, my department published some interesting research as part of its ongoing survey of employers. Just over 900 employers were asked what could be done to improve the employment prospects of mature-age job seekers.
“There was a range of responses by employers, with the most common suggestion being that employers themselves need to improve their attitude towards employing mature age workers.
“Employers acknowledged that they could be more flexible with their workplace arrangements, such as the hours of work offered to mature aged people. This is very encouraging because many older workers want to remain in the workforce – but not necessarily on a full-time basis.
“The survey also offered some interesting insights for older workers looking to find a job or change jobs. The employers surveyed clearly acknowledged the skills, experience, reliability and strong work and communication skills that mature age people bring to the workforce.
“But they noted that regardless of age, people need to have the relevant skills, experience and physical fitness required of any employee for the job. It was also essential that people ensured their skills were up to date – especially computer skills.”
Mr Hartsuyker said the Government has introduced a number of targeted programmes to boost mature-age workforce participation.
“Under our new Restart programme, employers can receive up to $10,000 if they hire and retain a job seeker aged 50 or older – provided that person has been unemployed and on income support for six months,” Mr Hartsuyker said.
“That money can be used by employers to help pay for training, reskilling or other workplace development.
Mr Hartsuyker said the government was also targeting assistance for those who need to relocate in order to accept a job offer.