The potential of intergenerational job sharing will be piloted as part of a push spearheaded by an aged care organisation to encourage employers to offer more flexible workplaces to mature age employees.
Under the model, older workers will be partnered with returning to work parents in job sharing roles and the positive effects on job satisfaction and wellbeing investigated.
Alison Errey, head of stakeholder engagement at IRT Group, said the opportunities for mentoring and skills sharing through job share were significant.
While traditional job sharing arrangements have frequently brought together workers at similar life stages, Ms Errey said there could be unexpected benefits from intergenerational partnerships.
“What we would like to test is why wouldn’t you match the 68-year-old who wants to decelerate their participation in the workforce with the mum returning post-maternity leave who wants to accelerate her transition back into the workforce. It’s a logical fit,” Ms Errey told Australian Ageing Agenda.
She said while governments have been proactive in developing flexible work practices for parents returning to work, flexible options for mature age workers were lagging. “We would like to see that same amount of flexibility offered to older workers,” Ms Errey said.
The IRT Foundation and the Australian Human Rights Commission announced on Wednesday a ‘statement of intent’ to collaborate on a range of pilot projects to boost mature age workforce participation.
Among the other ideas to be progressed are a mature workforce roundtable and the piloting of a skills checkpoint, an initiative strongly championed by Age Discrimination Commissioner Susan Ryan.
As with health checkups, a skills check would be preventative and help set a person up for the next 20 years of their working life.
Under Ms Ryan’s plan, anyone approaching 50 could attend a local TAFE to a get an analysis of their current skills and advice on local demand for jobs and the training and credentials required to transition careers.
“It is a fact that most people approaching 50 need to think about moving jobs, particularly people in declining sectors such as manufacturing or print journalism, and also those working in jobs that make heavy physical demands, such as building, trades or nursing,” Ms Ryan told the IRT event on Wednesday. “They will need to look for and retrain for jobs that build on their experience but do not make the physical demands they can no longer meet.”
A checkpoint service would support older workers to transition smoothly into training or further work, and help people plan for increased longevity.
The foundation is seeking to recruit a range of partners from diverse sectors to participate in the pilot programs and has already held talks with the ACT Government.
Ms Errey said the foundation would like to evaluate the effectiveness of the pilots to demonstrate to employers the value of these models, such as an intergenerational job share arrangement.
“We want to get some hard data around what are the benefits, what are the outcomes of these models which will provide a compelling argument to employers to have a look at these strategies.”
The IRT Foundation is a division of IRT Group, which funds research, community grants, education and advocacy to promote positive ageing and build age-friendly communities.
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