Back to Listing

Willing to Work - Australian Human Rights Commissions Inquiry

09 May 2016

Are Baby Boomers facing greater challenges than the other generations when looking for a job?

According to Australia’s Age and Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Susan Ryan, “The right to work is a fundamental human right, but one that far too many older people and people with disability in Australia do not enjoy.”

This month The Australian Human Rights Commission released the results of a detailed inquiry into the challenges older Australians face in the workplace. 

The Willing to Work report provides a number of recommendations to address employment discrimination and drive the increase in the number of mature age Australians in the labour force whether they wish to continue to work due to financial necessity or personal desire. 

Do Baby Boomers stand a chance when it comes to longevity in the workforce?

According to research conducted by the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), if 5% more people over the age of 55 had jobs, Australia’s economy would be worth AU$48 billion more than it is now. That makes a compelling case for employers to welcome mature age workers and encourage them to apply for suitable roles where they can leverage their relevant skills and experience to benefit the company and inspire team members.

At the beginning of 2016 there were 80,000 unemployed Australians over the age of 55. That’s 12% more than 2015.  

The AHRC research also found that 60% of people who felt discriminated against because of their age, also experienced:

  • Self esteem issues
  • Mental health issues
  • Stress
  • A negative effect on their family
  • Having to retire early when they didn’t want to
  • Not feeling a part of the community
  • Financial hardships

The challenges that mature age workers face are:

  • Finding a job
  • Keeping a job
  • Coming back to the workforce after taking a break

Typical barriers that older workers may experience are:

  • Having out of date job search skills
  • Having to gain new skills to keep up with changing technology and methodology
  • Health problems

What can mature age workers do to remain employable and to overcome the stigma of being ‘too old’?

1. Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle

Fitness and good health help you to project energy and vitality which in turn helps you to stay motivated and productive while in the job search and also while employed.

2. Adopt a Positive Attitude

A positive attitude towards the job search process is essential.  There are challenges to securing employment regardless of age.  If you believe that age is an issue it will be an issue.  If you remain open, willing to learn and adapt in changing circumstances your changes of success will be greater.

3. Stay up to Date with Relevant Technology

Stay current with technology and methodology. This is essential to being employable.  Employers hire staff to fulfill a need - a job needs to get done accurately and in a timely manner.  Being current and qualified removes a barrier to employment.

4. Understand the Latest Job Search Methods

The way employers find employees has changed rapidly the past decade.  No longer are the Saturday newspapers the only place to go for job advertisements.  Use the online job boards, register with recruitment companies that specialise in your area of interest and capability and create a powerful LinkedIn profile to ensure that you can be found by hiring managers and recruitment professionals.  A JobVite survey found that 94% of recruiters source for candidates on LinkedIn but only 36% of job seekers actively use LinkedIn for their job search. 

5. Leverage the Power of Networks

Research tells us that between 60-80% of jobs are found through personal relationships," says John Bennett, director of the Master of Science and executive coaching and assistant professor of behavioral science at the McColl School of Business.  Expand your network of connections in the desired area of employment.  Make it easy for someone to make a recommendation, as your level of commitment to finding a job, your capability, your attitude, professionalism, and willingness to learn and to share your relevant expertise impresses them. This gives you a foot in the door for a potentially rewarding conversation.

The Australian Human Rights Commission’s Willing to Work inquiry has helped to create awareness of the challenges facing older workers in Australia.  What will you do to overcome these challenges?

Share