Mature-age workers a valuable resource

Geelong Advertiser 1 October 2015

BABY Boomers have been the backbone of Australia’s workforce for many years.

The boomer generation, which numbers more than 5.5 million, has helped build the country’s economy and shape its society.

And, over the next decade or two, they’ll change that working landscape yet again as they retire from paid employment.

This exodus will have an impact across Australia, including in the Geelong region. Mature-age workers bring valuable expertise, knowledge and life experience to Geelong’s varied businesses and organisations.

They add diversity, productivity and stability and play a crucial role in mentoring our next wave of workers and leaders.

 

And many of them are not ready to go. They’re reluctant to down tools, pack away the briefcase and leave their jobs — for financial reasons, personal choice and a strong sense of purpose.

Australian Bureau of Statistics labour force data reveals a significant increase in employment numbers over the past five years for older workers in the Geelong region, which includes the City of Greater Geelong, Surf Coast Shire, Borough of Queenscliffe and most of Golden Plains Shire.

In mid-2010 there were about 17,300 people aged 55 years and over in part and full-time employment.

Flip the calendar to mid-2015, and that figure has jumped by 6900 to about 24,200.

That’s good news for Geelong’s employers. Businesses can and do benefit greatly from productive mature-age workers but they’ll need to take a flexible approach to keep that valuable intellectual capital within their ranks as retirement beckons.

Options of part-time work and flexible hours make paid employment more attractive to mature-age people looking to balance a job with lifestyle changes as they transition towards retirement.

And it might be enough to keep this valuable human resource within Geelong’s workforce for longer.

But it’s not just skills and knowledge that slip away as mature-age workers retire.

Workplace participation rates across Australia will be impacted too, with governments’ strongly encouraging older people to remain in employment longer to stave off a forecast shrinking pool of workers in coming decades and help counteract the economic ramifications of an ageing population.

While the catchcry of “youth are our future” is true, we ignore the mature-age worker at our peril. They’re important now and will remain so in the future.

— Rob Birch is chief executive officer of Gforce Employment Solutions, which supplies employment services to Geelong, Ballarat and Wyndham regions.

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