Climbing around on building sites or working five days a week can be equally unattractive to workers aged over 50.
But increasing the number of mature-age people in the workface is key for Australia to overcome economic challenges, such as skill shortages.
In a push to keep more mature-age people in the workforce, employers are being offered incentives of up to $5000.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics predicts the number of people aged over 50 will increase by about 22 per cent by 2020.
Employment participation Minister Kate Ellis says there are more than 1.9 million people aged 55 years or over in the labour market, employed either full or part time.
“This indicates that employers see the value in holding on to their experienced staff,” she says. “But when a mature-age person loses their job, they can find it tough to get back into work. With the existing skill shortages, we cannot afford to ignore what mature-age people bring to a job – life and work experience, reliability, the capacity to guide and mentor others, depth of insight.”
A report by National Seniors Australia’s Productive Ageing Centre finds there are two main difficulties people aged 50 to 69 have when looking for a job or more hours.
About 28 per cent say there are no more jobs in their industry or locality, while 18 per cent lack the necessary training.
Another study, by the Australian Employers Convention, finds 45 per cent of workers aged 45 or over plan to stay in the workforce beyond the retirement age of 65.
The Federal Government’s Experience +Training program will provide employers with $4950 to pay for their mature-age staff to complete a Certificate III qualification or above to be skilled in passing on their experience and knowledge to younger apprentices and trainees. It can help ensure the skills developed over a career are not lost when the worker retires, as well as provide those in physical lines of work with a career change when they no longer want to do such things as working on building sites.
Up to another $4400 is available for employers to have workers aged 50 years and over assessed on their skills.
A formal qualification is issued based on the prior learning held and/or additional training provided for the worker to get the extra skills required to obtain the qualification .
Experience+ On the Job Support will give workers aged over 50, whose job may be at risk because of a health condition, illness or disability, with support to keep them in their job, such as special equipment and advice.
Mark Preston, 50, was employed by Australian Outdoor Living as a consultant in its blinds and shutters division in November after previously working in the solar industry. He encourages mature-age staff to undertake further training to get a qualification and says employers do value experience in older staff.
“If you’re doing something for 25 years or something, you can fall into a rut,” he says. “There’s always something to learn. People tend to look at an older person as a bit more experienced. We’ve been through it and done it.”
He says all staff receives on-going training through the company – which approached him to work at its Royal Park showroom while he was studying for a Certificate IV in Sustainability Assessment.