Long-term value of older workers

Mature workers have the experience, work ethic and loyalty which companies now need to survive the skills shortage, but many South Australian businesses are still not hiring them.

DOME (Don’t Overlook Mature Expertise) says many businesses fail to see the superior work skills many mature workers have over their younger counterparts and are too quick to pass off mature-aged jobseekers as “too old” to hire.

Executive director Greg Goudie says employers are becoming mature-age friendly and attitudes are changing with increased publicity about the need to hire mature workers.

But many mature jobseekers still are failing to secure work because of the age barrier.

Mr Goudie urges SA employers to take a second look at mature candidates applying for jobs and reconsider the benefits they can bring. He also suggests employers look within their own mature-age ranks when developing staff or considering hiring.

"A lot of employers look at someone in their 50s and close to 60 and think they are coasting now, they are looking at retirement or to leave and are not interested in training or improving themselves with a promotion," he says.

But he says mature workers often are loyal and willing to stay in their job for a long time and are keen to continue developing their skills.

He says skill shortages in the next few years will increase the need for workers to remain in the workforce and have the skills to do the job.

Mr Goudie says mature workers bring a strong work ethic and many will work longer in a role than other younger staff who tend to move on rather than stay in one job.

"If you can get someone to work for you for the next 10 years, 15 years, that’s about twice as long as someone from a younger work group who may leave," he says.

"There are all these misconceptions about mature-age people, that they take more sick days and that sort of thing, but statistically, mature-age people take less time off and less sick leave and will spend more time on the job if, required."

Carol Longo, 45, was hired by the Posture Care Chair Company recently.

She says her age is an advantage to clients, with many preferring to deal with more mature people.

Mature workers have greater life experience as well as work experience which can help in many situations, Ms Longo says. "Most of it is the fact that I don’t need to be told how things work," she says.

"A young person might need to start from scratch, whereas an older person has been in the field and comes up to speed a lot earlier, I believe."


Workers aged 60 – 64 years:
* Managers and administrators: 13.1 per cent
* Professionals: 19.2 per cent
* Clerical, sales and service workers: 25.1 per cent
* Tradespersons: 10.1 per cent
* Labourers: 9.8 per cent

Article from The Advertiser, May, 2010.

Related articles you might be interested in reading