Friday, May 06, 2011

New Zealand: Aging Workforce Report Highlights Importance of Older Worker

New Zealand's Ministry of Social Development has released a report finding that, over the next 40 years, more older people will participate in the paid workforce, the economic value of older people’s paid, unpaid and voluntary work will increase, older people’s contribution to tax revenue will increase, and older people will spend more.

While covering many economic issues, with respect to employment, "The Business of Ageing: Realising the economic potential of older people in New Zealand: 2011–2051" finds that 7-10% of the total labor force will be 65 and over by 2051, up from 3-4% currently. Among the likely effects of population aging on the labor market are that:
• a sizeable proportion of the workforce will be older, creating opportunities for workplace adaptation and job mobility
• New Zealand have an opportunity to redefine outdated concepts of sudden retirement
• employers will want continued access to the increasingly hard-to-replace skills of older workers who, in turn, have more interest in continuing to work than previous generations
• succession planning will be vital to ensure valuable knowledge and skills aren’t lost as baby boomers leave the workforce
• the growth of the total workforce will slow, making New Zealand’s economic growth more dependent on productivity improvements
New Zealand can prepare for the demographic shift and associated rising government expenditure by improving work opportunities for older people. Specifically, the report suggests that there are three key areas where participation of an older workforce could be enhanced: (1) commitment to renewing human capital, for example, upskilling, (2) new technological adaptations for work environments, for example, ergonomic design for improved health and labour savings, and (3) optimal work practices and arrangements such as flexible work arrangements and mentoring of younger workers.

Sources: Ministry of Social Development Research Report ; New Zealand Herald "NZ needs working boomers" (May 29, 2011)

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