Employment of Older Workers Improves, But Australia Still Lags Behind New Zealand

As a sixty-six-year-old with senior industry qualifications, Alister Robertson has met some employers who have not wanted to hire someone his age, despite his experience.

When he applied for one job a couple of years ago, a young university graduate was hired instead.

“I just felt they didn’t want to take someone on at 64 years of age because they knew I would be retiring fairly soon,” Mr Robertson said.

“My wife has had the same experiences. We found the workplace management did not want to take on people of our age despite the skills that we might have.”

older workers
Photo: article supplied

But Mr Robertson has jumped those hurdles and on Wednesday started a new job with PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

As a senior manager in customs tariffs and trade, Mr Robertson will be working as a consultant, mentoring younger consultants and working with clients. He is returning to a role he previously held in the 1990s, but with greater expertise to share with younger workers.

“When this opportunity came up at PriceWaterhouseCoopers I was just very flattered and am taking it with both arms, because it is in the area of my expertise,” he said.

A new international study from PwC shows Australia has made the biggest improvement of any country in hiring mature-age workers, jumping four places from 16th to 12th in new OECD rankings.

The data shows that Australia, Germany and Israel have made the biggest improvements in the rankings based on full-time earnings, employment rates and participation in training of 55- to 64-year-olds relative to 25- to 54-year-olds since 2003.

PwC’s chief economist Jeremy Thorpe said Australia has moved from middle of the pack to within the top third of the 34 nations.

“We’re continuing to improve in leveraging mature-age workers, but we’re far behind our closest neighbour, New Zealand, in second place,” he said.

“If Australia could boost employment rates for those aged over 55 to Swedish levels – which still ranks lower than New Zealand on the Index – we could potentially add 4.5 per cent to our GDP.”

Australia now ranks fifth behind Austria, Greece, Portugal and Belgium in rankings based on full-time earnings. It ranks 13th for employment rates of 55 to 64-year-olds, and has moved into the top third among OECD countries for employment rates of 65 to 69-year-olds, in 11th place ahead of Sweden and Switzerland.

PwC global people business leader Jon Williams said the data showed the employment of older workers does not block the path for younger workers.

This article was originally published by the Sydney Morning Herald.

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