Friday, March 07, 2008

Australia: Survey Suggests Older Workers the Key to Growth

Workers aged 55 and older, not generation Y, appear to be the answer to the ongoing skills and labor shortage for Australian employers, according to the results of research by Econtech commissioned by Mercer Consulting. Accordingly, employers should shift their focus from young to old, and particularly older women, to maintain productivity.

Specifically, Mercer reports by 2012, workers in the labor force aged 55+ will increase by 14% while workers aged 25-54 will increase by only 5%. In addition, women aged 45+ will increase by 12% while the number of men in the same age group will increase by only 6%.

According to Head of Mercer’s retirement business, Mr Tim Jenkins, employers--particularly in industries facing increased employment demand--"have to hold onto older workers about to exit the workforce.” In addition, he said:
Australian employers have to re-define what the average daily and weekly job looks like and how it is remunerated in order to hold onto older workers, maintain productivity and keep downward pressure on wages that, according to our research, are forecast to rise at an average annual rate of 4.2% between now and 2012.
On the practical level, he posed a number of questions to employers such as "how many jobs really need to be full-time, all of the time? How many part-time workers are needed to deliver current and future productivity requirements? How do you fill entry level jobs when the available labour force is dominated by experienced 55+ workers?" Employers have to change the stigma around part-time work not equating to a career or a promotion, and "employers are going to have to create more part-time roles as career roles."

Source: Marcer Press Release (March 5, 2008)

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