Wednesday, October 22, 2014

New Zealand: Conference Addresses Employment of Older Women

New Zealand's National Advisory Council on the Employment of Women (NACEW) held a conference on "Employment of Older New Zealand Women" at which, among other things, results of research were presented, showing that there's a large number working low-paid and physically demanding shift work. In "The Employment of Older NZ Women", the study commissioned by NACEW, economist Paul Callister suggests that the rates of older women in the workforce, which have shot up from 2% of those aged 65 or more 20 years ago to 15% today, could top 30% in a further 20 years.
Combining the recent trends in education with the projected demographic change shows there is a large ‘bulge’ of mid-life women workers, most of whom are working full time and many of whom are well educated, who are moving towards traditional ages of retirement. Depending on their choices and opportunities in the labour market, in the short term this may lift the employment rates of older women. But in the longer term, this group will continue ageing and will move into age groups where employment rates are very low.
While presenting various data, comparing ages, education, region, and Maori, the paper does not make any specific recommendations. However it does suggest that relatively little is known about the employment of older women, and that one important issue for further research is the relative employment related earnings of older women and men.

At the conference, Traci Houpapa, NAECW chief executive, was quoted as saying that ageism is a major barrier to older women wanting to work: "Age discrimination can also have an impact, reducing the ability of older workers to change careers later in life if issues start to occur, therefore more flexible, sustainable employment is required to enable older workers to stay in the labour force."

According to another report, Minister for Women Louise Upston said the economy was strengthening but, as the employment market tightened, there would be increasing demand from employers for on-job training for staff who did not have formal qualifications.

Sources: TVNZ One News "Concerns raised for ageing female workers" (October 22, 2014); "Working women 65 and older set to double" (October 22, 2014)

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