New network to support mature job seekers proposed

A new network of community-based employment centres would connect seniors with paid part-time jobs in their locality, under a proposal to utilise Australia’s growing ‘grey army’.

A new network of community-based employment centres would connect seniors with paid part-time jobs in their locality, under a scheme put forward as a way of utilising Australia’s growing ‘grey army’.

The proposal from think tank Per Capita is based on a Japanese model that has 800,000 members and which has helped lift the country’s mature age participation rate to almost 69 per cent – compared to Australia’s 62 per cent.

There was a clear gap for a jobs resource to help Australian seniors transition into the later stages of their working life, said Emily Millane, principal research fellow on the think tank’s Longevity and Positive Ageing project.

The previous federal government provided a CV review and advice service to job seekers aged 45 and over, but it was discontinued in the 2014 Budget, Ms Millane noted.

Her proposal follows an Australian Human Rights Commission report late last month that found age discrimination in the workplace was rife. Seniors groups said that the report, which found a third of people gave up looking for work after experiencing age discrimination, should be a “wake-up call” to employers and policymakers.

Treasurer Joe Hockey has previously called on businesses to change their attitudes to mature age employment, saying Australia’s ‘grey army’ of workers would be critical to the nation’s future.

However, Ms Millane said there was a shortage of initiatives to support mature age job seekers in Australia. Her report considered overseas examples such as the Silver Human Resource Centre (SHRC) in Japan which provided people with flexible paid work after they reach the country’s compulsory retirement age of 60.

The centres were funded by central and municipal governments and had been rolled out nationally to provide part-time, casual and contract work. The number of workers enrolling in the program had steadily increased and there were now 1,600 centres in Japan, wrote Ms Millane in her paper Spaces for all Ages: Policies for an inclusive Australia released on Friday.

The Japanese centres were contracted by corporations and public organisations and then allocated the work to their members based on the work content and frequency. Members were paid by the centre based on their work, Ms Millane said.

Local councils to run Australian model

The program could be replicated in Australia by implementing the model through local councils, with centres housed at municipal offices or local libraries, Ms Millane suggested.

“Having the centres run by local councils also makes the emphasis of the program about people contributing to the local community through paid work, something which older Australians already do in a voluntary capacity.

“The centres would offer job matching with a particular focus on matching people to local jobs which are offered on part-time basis. This reflects the desire among older people not to work full time,” she said.

Ms Millane said the centres could be co-located with the existing Seniors Kiosks, thereby providing computer and internet training. In fact, beyond providing employment, the centres could offer services such as skills training, interview preparation and education courses, she suggested.

The range of jobs that mature age workers could find through the centres was potentially enormous – as has been demonstrated in Japan, where people had been placed in areas ranging from office administration and parks maintenance to carpentry, translating and editing roles.

Discussing the implementation of the proposal, Ms Millane suggested an initial trial in one or two sites, as was done in Japan, that could be undertaken at a cost of at least $500,000 per centre to cover infrastructure, staffing and ongoing overheads.

Tags: emily millane, mature age employment, older-workers, per capita,

4 thoughts on “New network to support mature job seekers proposed

  1. One disincentive to work for me (I’m 75) is that I lose 50 cents from my pension for every dollar I earn over a minimal amount. That means I’m doing skilled and demanding work for $15/hr. A lower rate of taper (say 30%) would be more encouraging

  2. There may be a few problems with the above – would the workers be covered by all the regulations OHS, superannuation etc. As it is there seems to be a bias regards older experience knowledgeable workers in that younger people do not seem to regard our lifetime experience, often wiping us off as old fogies – when did this start for me – only when I was a young 65 year young person, still working and I must saying staying very much up-to-date with regards to my industry. So what guarantee can government and organisations put in place to make sure seniors are not faced with further discrimination as older workers in the community?

  3. There is nothing to stop people like Frank from doing voluntary work if they think being paid $15/hr is not worth it. The rest of us – i.e. who can’t get anything but voluntary work – would be more than happy to get paid at least $15/hr. I am only 59, and university qualified, but have been unable to get paid work (of any sort) for years. Maybe if I was a bloke …..

  4. Social and Domestic Care is a rewarding occupation for older people – many already doing this on a voluntary basis. Care workers are in high demand and Independent Care Workers at http://www.bettercaring.com.au are being hired at $18 to $30 an hour to provide social and domestic assistance to older people, and those with disabilities, in their homes and communities.

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