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Mature age workers: a critical piece in the age diversity puzzle for businesses of every size

To encourage employers to harness the skills of Australia’s ageing population, the Federal Government is providing a financial incentive to employers who engage and retain mature-age workers.

Available through jobactive – the Federal Government’s $6.8 billion job placement program – the Restart wage subsidy entitles an employer to up to $10,000 for hiring eligible workers aged 50 and over. Employers can put this subsidy, paid to them over six months by their local jobactive provider, towards training and related costs (e.g. a forklift license, IT courses) and any necessary workplace modifications.

One of the many employers taking advantage of jobactive’s Restart subsidy is Grant Walker Parts. Based in Bayswater, Victoria, the business is a supplier of new and used automotive parts to mechanical workshops and accident repair shops. Of the 42 workers employed by the business, one in seven were recruited through jobactive, including two delivery drivers, both aged over 50. In fact, four out of the business’s ten delivery drivers are aged 50 and over.

According to Justin Walker, the general manager of Grant Walker Parts, the mature-age workers who were engaged through jobactive “bring a very different element to the mix”.

“Our mature age workers like to be a part of a team that not only utilises their skills but achieves something,” he told Dynamic Business. “While their stamina is lower than our Gen X and Y staff, they are not distracted by social media and they don’t need constant praise. In the case of those who were previously in long-term unemployment, their social skills and networks are often limited and their confidence can be low. Work acts as a solution by renewing their sense of purpose and otherwise providing mental health benefits. I certainly feel that if a business offers mature-age workers the right type of work and the right leadership as well as empathy, they can be great additions to – and balance out – the workforce.”

Darren Bail is a recruitment Manager with Sarina Russo Job Access. In its capacity as one of the largest private sector jobactive provider, the agency has helped Grant Walker Parts recruit staff that meet their requirements needs at zero cost to the business. According to Bail, Sarina Russo has become invaluable to Grant Walker Parts and other employers by establishing a rapport founded on trust and a familiarity with their staff requirements.

Regarding the Restart wage subsidy, Bail said Sarina Russo Job Access is approached by employers who seek to take advantage of the financial incentive for hiring mature-age workers; however, the agency also promotes the subsidy to employers who might not realise the potential gains of tapping into this often-overlooked talent pool.

“What employers should keep in mind is that a person aged in their early 50s today might have an extra ten to fifteen years of work left in the tank,” he said. “The mature-age workers we’ve placed in jobactive positions have tended to be reliable, punctual and hard-working. In fact, many employers specifically ask us for workers aged 50 and above due to their strong work ethic and maturity. Moreover, they come with a lifetime of experiences, which can be a real advantage for employers, many of whom seek them out for administrative and warehousing roles.

Bail said that where an employer can really unlock productivity gains is when they have a “complementary mix of young and mature age staff”. He explained, “The older workers are often useful as mentors to staff who are new to the workplace and still finding their feet. In addition, having a mature-age worker amidst the younger ones can take some off the heat off the managers because they’ve got someone who helps keep everyone in line by virtue of the respect their age draws. Just as younger workers stand to benefit and grow from the experiences of an older colleague, being paired with a younger colleague can help a mature-age worker upskill – information technology is a common example.”

Having made a business case for age diversity, Bail said employers should consider taking advantage of both jobactive’s Restart subsidy in conjunction with the wage subsidies for hiring eligible workers aged 15 to 24 years of age.

For more information on jobactive, including the services available to employers and the wage subsidies they may be eligible for, visit the jobactive website.

See also: Mature age workers: the talent pool that will boost your bottom line

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James Harkness

James Harkness

James Harnkess previous editor at Dynamic Business

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