The Australian Government will invest $25.8 million over four years to provide additional assistance for eligible mature age Australians to help them find and keep a job.
Beginning on 1 January 2013, the Mature Age Participation – Job Seeker Assistance Program will provide eligible job seekers aged 55 years and over with intensive job preparation assistance, including refresher or basic training in information technology, skills reviews and peer support.
The program will also provide up to $500 per participant to purchase items or services they need to get work ready, such as a home internet connection or necessary computer software or hardware which can be critical for job searching.
Professional career counselling, help with financial planning and the opportunity to share their experiences with other mature age Australians also looking for work, will be key features of the new program.
“To keep our economy strong we need to have highly skilled and experienced Australians in our workplaces,” Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Bill Shorten said.
“The skills and experience of a lifetime of work makes mature age Australians an extremely valuable asset to both our workplaces and the broader economy.”
The program will help to prevent longer spells of unemployment and will encourage job seekers to re-engage with the labour force sooner.
The program will be delivered by a panel of expert providers in areas or industries where the Government feels it will best meet individual, employer and community needs.
Minister for Employment Participation Kate Ellis said the Mature Age Participation – Job Seeker Assistance Program draws on international experience and the lessons learned through current employment services delivery practice.
“When a mature age person loses their job, they can find it hard to get their foot back in the door,” Ms Ellis said.
“On average they remain unemployed for 73 weeks, compared to 32 weeks for other job seekers.
“We cannot afford for the skills and experience of older Australians not to be a part of our future workforce,” Ms Ellis said.
Minister for Mental Health and Ageing Mark Butler said many mature age people leave the labour force because they feel their skills and experience are no longer valued.
“This can lead to isolation, not only from the workplace and former colleagues, but from the community as a whole,” Mr Butler said.
“This can have a very negative impact on the wellbeing of older Australians.
“This assistance program is not only a win for businesses looking for skilled and experienced workers, but also a great opportunity for older Australians to again enjoy the dignity and connection to their community that comes with work,” Mr Butler said.
The Mature Age Participation – Job Seeker Assistance Program builds on the Gillard Government’s recent $10 million announcement to provide a $1000 Job Bonus to employers who take on older workers and the Corporate Champions program ($15.6 million over four years), which will encourage employers to recruit and retain mature age workers.