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Australia - keep working
By Sherrill Nixon, Sydney Morning Herald
August 28, 2003
baby boomers have been asked to ditch ideas of an early retirement in the
interests of the country's future.
Federal Minister for Ageing, Kevin Andrews, yesterday called for a huge
change in attitude to tackle the workforce problems arising from
Australia's ageing population.
change required of employees is to abandon expectations of early
retirement and ensure they update their skills so they remain
employable," Mr Andrews told the Ageless Workforce Symposium in
time to time, a particular generation of Australians is called upon to
rebuild our society in order to secure its ongoing prosperity. That time
Prime Minister, John Howard, said he would ask the business leaders in his
Community Business Partnership to develop policies to encourage mature-age
people to stay in the workforce. The rallying call has been driven by
demographic projections that show the number of Australians aged over 65
will more than double over the next 50 years.
annual number of new entrants to the workforce will fall from 170,000 to
12,500 in 20 years - and by 2025 there will be only three people in work
for every person over 65, compared with the current ratio of six-to-one.
scenario is compounded by the relatively newfound desire for early
retirement and the retrenchment drives that have hit many older workers.
has one of the lowest workforce participation rates for older people in
the developed world, with 45 per cent of men aged 60-64 in work now
compared with 75 per cent in 1970.
symposium heard from companies at the forefront of efforts to attract and
retain older workers, including Westpac, Australia Post and McDonald's.
general manager of stakeholder communications, Noel Purcell, said older
workers were a stable workforce because they were less likely to leave
their employers to find other jobs.
were also an asset in dealing with older customers, who sometimes felt
younger staff were not experienced enough, he said. Westpac is recruiting
900 mature-aged workers.
Australia Post, a survey of its 35,000 staff found the average age of the
biggest proportion of its workers was the low-40s, compared with 31 in
Post's group manager of change and development, Pat McCarthy, told the
forum that 42 per cent of staff recently surveyed had been in the same job
for more than six years, while 14 per cent had been in the same job for 15
survey also found that 70 per cent of workers felt their career had
plateaued or was in decline. Australia Post had an entrenched culture of
early retirement, with a sharp fall in employment once people hit 55.
McCarthy said his firm wanted to smash the stereotypes of limited career
prospects for the over-45s and to encourage its workers to develop new
possible role model for this is John O'Shea, 47. He has worked for
Australia Post since 1975, when he started as a postman in Matraville and
Mascot. After 16 years of postal routes, Mr O'Shea became a night-sorting
manager - a position he held for 11 years until he left for health
years ago he became a driver for the firm, undergoing training in
occupational health and safety for his new role.
Mr O'Shea still wanted to retire at 60, "if I'm healthy enough".