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Helping mature age Australians into work

Concerns have been raised over older Australians being locked out of jobs, despite the announcement of five trial locations for the Federal Government’s Career Transition Assistance Program

Skilled and technologically savvy mature age workers could still be locked out of jobs (Source: Shutterstock)
Skilled and technologically savvy mature age workers could still be locked out of jobs (Source: Shutterstock)

The program, which will help prepare mature aged Australians for new jobs, is set to be trialled from 1 July 2018 in Ballarat, Victoria; Somerset, Queensland; Central West, New South Wales; Adelaide, South Australia; and Perth, Western Australia, before being rolled out nationally in 2020.

Minister for Employment Michaelia Cash says the program is part of the government delivering on their commitment to a $110 million Mature Age Employment Package announced in the 2017-18 Budget.

“Mature age Australians bring a lifetime of skills and experience to the workforce,” she says.

“It is critical for both the individual and economy that this experience isn’t lost if older workers find themselves out of work.

“We recognise the immense capacity of mature age Australians and understand the need to provide unique support so they can up skill and fill key roles in Australian workplaces.”

While senior’s advocacy group Council on the Ageing (COTA) Australia welcomes the announcement of the rollout of trial sites for the program, Chief Executive Ian Yates has raised concerns that while it aims to allow older Australians to re-enter the workforce, they still may find themselves ‘locked out’.

“We welcome the government’s approach to trialling the Career Transition Assistance Program and learning the lessons from these trials to inform the national roll out of the program,” he says.

“While we welcome the government’s efforts to remove some of the barriers older Australians face when returning to the workforce, more is required to address the full extent of the problem.”

He adds that while some older Australians will benefit from reskilling – including training in computer and information technology – and job search techniques, resulting in greater chances of finding work, the prevalence and complexity of age discrimination in many cases means that skilled and technologically savvy mature age workers will still be locked out of jobs.

“Age discrimination is still rife in Australia, with more than one quarter of mature age Australians experiencing age discrimination at work,” Mr Yates says.

“Discrimination against older Australians not only has a negative impact on the wellbeing of older Australians, but also creates significant issues for our society and the economy.

“The government must take the initiative, working with the sector, to lead the cultural and attitudinal change that Australia needs if it is to capitalise on its ageing population.”

Minister Cash says the government is committing significant resources to address the fact that mature aged Australians can remain locked out of the workforce for long periods when leaving a job.

“By making the targeted investment we are identifying and removing barriers that may be preventing mature age Australians from returning to the workforce,” she says.

She adds that the program will allow participants to boost their skills, strengthen their resilience, learn new job-search techniques and better understand the local labour market. There is also the opportunity to opt for training in computer and information technology.

In addition to the Career Transition Assistance Program, a number of other programs and initiatives are expected to be announced as part of the Mature Age Employment Package.

The next steps for the Career Transition Assistance Program will see consultation with selected key stakeholders over the coming months to develop the program.

Following the trial within the five locations in 2018, lessons learnt will be incorporated into the programs national roll out.

The Career Transition Assistance Program will be open to those who are registered with a jobactive provider within one of the five regions and are 50 years of age or older.

Further details on the program, including guidelines, will be released closer to the program start date of 1 July 2018

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