Sunday, December 18, 2011

Australia: Study Identifies Barriers Preventing Older Workers from Remaining In or Re-entering in the Workforce

Australia's Minister for Employment Participation, Kate Ellis, has released a report identifying age discrimination, physical illness, injury and disability as key barriers preventing older Australians remaining in or re-entering the workforce. All together, 14 barriers are identified and discussed in "Ageing and the Barriers to Labour Force Participation in Australia," an interim report prepared by the Consultative Forum on Mature Age Participation:
discrimination in employment on the basis of age, care-giving responsibilities, flexibility of employment arrangements, issues around private recruitment firm practices, job search assistance, leisure time trade-off, mental health barriers, mismatch of skills and experience with industry demands, physical illness, injury and disability, re-entry issues barriers of the VLTU (Very Long-Term Unemployed), re-training and up-skilling barriers, superannuation, tax-transfer system, and workplace barriers.
According to one analysis, the report found found that a mature worker’s own health--not workplace barriers--was the biggest barrier preventing them from entering the workforce, staying employed or working beyond retirement age. Thus, while "physical illness, injury and disability" was given a 100% importance rating, workplace barriers--such as poor or difficult workplace conditions or environments and physically demanding occupations--was only given 16.7%.

However, the report also noted that "It is important to note that the barriers presented in this paper are not independent of each other. Rather, many are interrelated and policy responses need to recognise this complex reality. As such, responses to these barriers need to involve many stakeholders, including government, employer organisations, employers, trade unions as well as mature age people."
"The Australian Government recognises that older Australians, with their skills built over a lifetime, make a massive contribution to our economy and our community," Ms Ellis said.

"We want to clear the way for older Australians to be able to stay in the workforce if they want to and this means tackling issues such as age discrimination or looking at how workplaces, equipment and jobs can be modified to better suit older Australians.
Source: Minister for Employment Participation Media Release (December 13, 2011)

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