Older Workers Struggling to Find Employment

July 10, 2018

I am grateful that I have work and my work continues to grow … but it’s a double- edged sword, as a career consultant I also feel sad and a little frightened that so much of my recent work has come about because of other people’s employment woes. There are several distinctive groups I am seeing more and more of all the time. They are mature workers, professional and non-professional, women who have had a career break often as carers and of course youth, often well-educated youth.  The unemployment rate has dropped over the last couple of years which is great but for a few vulnerable groups there doesn’t seem to have been much let up, if they are not unemployed then they are under-employed and struggling. The first part of this four part series will look at how prolific the issue is for older workers. The next topic will address the impact of caring on careers, then we will address youth under and unemployment and finally, why we need a fix and some creative solutions.

Older and out in the cold

Employment stats may look better overall but unprecedented growth in under-employment is impacting on mature “would-be” workers and unemployment is still taking its toll too.  Locally, it is reported by employment agencies (Job Actives) that one third of their registered job seekers are between 50 and 65 years old, that’s a large proportion.

Results from a University of South Australia’s survey of 2100 people over 45 years into age discrimination aligned closely with research done by Australian Human Rights Commission. Many of those who had “retired” early were either dismissed or made redundant and those who were looking for work had often been overtly or surreptitiously rejected because of age. Older experienced and highly educated workers also reported that Job seeker services struggled to understand and assist them. Over 55 yr olds are job seeking for more than a year and often accepting roles they are over-qualified for.

According to one company, Weploy, hire-ability decreases by 8% every year after 35. I didn’t check the credibility of their research as that’s a stat I’d prefer not to be true. By my calculations that’ll have me out to pasture and possibly put out of my misery in about November next year at the ripe old age of 48. As someone with who has dependents that’s not really going to work for me, nor I imagine would it work for many others of a similar number of years.  Statistical credibility or not, ageism is a ‘thing’ and the reasons for this prejudice aren’t always very reasonable.

Article written by Tanya Derrett. Tanya is Harvest’s Careers Lead and can offer constructive advice to Mature Job Seekers on strategies to re-enter the workforce.