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The “forgotten” mature aged workers and their plight - Nov 2020

The “forgotten” mature aged workers and their plight - Nov 2020

The Labour Market Statistics for the quarter end September 2020 were recently released. Tracking the 55+ underutilisation rate, i.e. the number unemployed or underemployed, the total for the 55+ is now 60,700 or 16% of all people available for work – this is up from 57,000 in June 2020.

As we work our way through these challenging times, one segment of New Zealanders that needs support now more than ever is our pool of mature aged job seekers. What we don’t want to forget is the fact that, as is evidenced by the Labour Market Statistics, there are thousands of job seekers in their mid-50’s and over who are looking for work, including many who have or will lose their jobs.

These are mainly good people who have made a great contribution to society, families and businesses in Aotearoa over many years and who have built up a great array of experience together with life and transferable skills, which will stand them, and businesses, in good stead in these difficult times.

Seniors@work is totally about helping our mature job seekers. In simplistic terms, we advocate for those in their mid-50's and over who are looking for work, and who, in many cases have struggled to find work for some time. It is certainly going to be even more challenging for them to find work as they are course competing with a much larger pool of job seekers.

By knocking on the doors of employers, we hope to engage with some who may be prepared to target, welcome and encourage mature aged job seekers to work for their organisation. They deserve, at very least, to be part of the mix when employers are considering recruiting as they work their way out of the Covid economic downturn.

In these challenging times, as is being pointed out to us by many employers, there is a lot to be said for experience, wise heads and reliability   

Our key goal and objective is to make a small but meaningful difference for those job seekers.

As we know, many people in their 50's have struggled to get work opportunities in the workforce for years and many believe that there is a bias against older workers  

Around the world, there is a lot of talk about gender bias, racial bias and culture bias at work, and each are important for many reasons, but arguably the biggest bias we face is the bias of age – we often evaluate people based on their age and this has become a major challenge in the workplace. Many older jobseekers have experienced age-related discrimination – if you are older, you are likely to be considered less capable and less able to adapt than your younger peers, and hence less likely to be employed.

As advocates for mature job seekers, we strongly encourage employers to retain or recruit mature aged workers. There is a myth, often espoused by recruiters, that people over the age of 65 should simply retire and go and play golf, travel the world and spend more time in their gardens, but research shows that firstly, many people, particularly those who have enjoyed long and meaningful careers, do like to work, and secondly that people who stop working and retire often suffer from depression and a general malaise of not having as much purpose in their lives

Whilst for most people, our physical strength and prowess starts declining after we reach the age of 30, knowledge and expertise keep increasing even beyond the age of 80…and knowledge and expertise are surely key requisites and components of job performance??!!

Mature aged workers have so much to give and contribute to the workplace - if you are an employer, our plea is to at least consider an older worker for an upcoming position that you need to fill and remember that it doesn’t have to be full time work, it could be part time, a short-term contract, or project based.