Monday, February 20, 2006

Australia: Prime Minister Calls for Workers To Delay Retirement

Older Australians need to stay in the workforce, but bosses and employees may have to compromise on hours of work and pay, Prime Minister John Howard says. Addressing an employer group at "The Workforce Tomorrow Industry Breakfast," Howard said that "[t]he bad news is that we are all getting older and as a population Australia is ageing. We are living longer in a healthier fashion and we are therefore facing a significant demographic challenge" and that far too many of the people between 55 and 65 leave the workforce far too early.

Howard said mature workers might find themselves reporting to much younger bosses or having to accept a rearrangement of remuneration structures. In addition, they should be prepared to sign up to part-time work, and people currently out of the workforce on disability pensions needed to be enticed back to work.

According to the Australian Associated Press article on the speech, opposition workforce participation spokeswoman Penny Wong said Mr Howard was acknowledging his government was presiding over a major skills crisis. "But you can't just talk about getting jobs for mature workers and people with a disability--you actually need to invest in their skills so they have the skills an employer needs," she said. "The best way the Howard government can encourage employers to hire jobless Australians is by making sure jobless Australians are ready for work.

"Howard says more older workers needed" Sydney Morning Herald (February 20, 2006)

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