Friday, July 16, 2010

Australia: Ageism and IT Workers and Call to Increase Labor Participation Rates of Mature Workers

The Australian Computer Society has released a report revealing that Australia’s mature age participation rate in the information and communications technology (ICT) sector is below that of comparable countries such as Canada, United Kingdom, New Zealand and the United States, and calling for both a self regulatory code of practice in this area for the ICT sector, and collaboration between government, industry and the Human Rights Commission to create attitudinal change amongst Australian employers.

According to "The ACS Age Diversity Report, Improving Age Diversity in the ICT Workforce," older ICT workers (45 and over) in Australia are perceived as being less healthy or more prone to disability, being underqualified or having obsolete skills, unable to learn new skills, being over qualified, unable to adapt to new or younger work cultures, looking towards retirement so not worth training, resistant to change, and less adaptive to new technologies.
ACS CEO, Bruce Lakin said, “Ageism is a growing reality in Australia - but so is an increasing awareness that workers 45 years and older represent a resource and knowledge base we need to continue to reinvest in.

“While age discrimination can be difficult to prove, its existence, increasing pervasiveness and negative impacts on mature workers and the workplace in general is undeniable. Age discrimination creates unacceptable levels of unemployment and underemployment amongst those over 45 years which has economic, as well as social and psychological costs. With reported skill shortages within the Australian ICT sector, the underemployment of older workers is a problem which demands significant focus. I thank Brenda Aynsley, VP Membership Boards, Chair of ACS Ageism Task Force and her team for their input to the Report,” said Mr Lakin.
Among other things, the report recommends that:
  1. Government, industry, industry and professional associations should partner to build a stronger Australian evidentiary base upon which to go forward – extent of ageism, impacts on unemployment, the reasons why it is happening, under-employment and hidden unemployment.
  2. The development of a government policy and framework to acknowledge and quantify the cost and other impacts of ageism, economic benefits to firms from employing older workers and to educate employers and employment agents on improving age diversity in the workforce.
  3. As part of its commitment to increasing the participation rate of older workers, the Government should develop policy, regulatory and taxation incentives for employers to provide ongoing professional development and to retain and/or hire older workers.
Source: Australian Computer Society Media Release (July 14, 2010)

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