Challenges in 2015 ‚ ¨ Demographic Shifts and Discrimination


Australia’s rapid age population growth is posing a challenge on Australian employers and the economy.

It is predicted that the aged population in Australia will grow significantly in the coming years. This is already posing a problem with the economic structure of Australia. The Government has recently released the findings of its Inter generational Report which revealed that the number of Australian aged 65 and over is projected to be more than double by 2055. The number of people between 15 and 65 will halve as a proportion of the population.

The Employers contribution to the growing problem

The reluctance of employers to employ mature aged workers is a growing problem. Even though these workers will bring a range of skills and knowledge to the workplace, a recent survey conducted by the Department of Employment and relations has revealed that employers sees mature aged workers as being slow, not up to date with the latest technology and the fact that many mature aged employees prefer to work flexible hours is not doing them any favours.

In this survey employers admitted that they need to improve their attitude toward employing mature-aged workers and they acknowledged that they can be looking more favourably on flexible work arrangements.

What is shocking about these findings is that many employers are making themselves guilty of discrimination by not giving a mature age worker a fair go, whether it is to employ them, train them or in terms of flexible working arrangements.

What can the employer do from a HR perspective?

Employers need to recognise that a general lack of skills is likely to impede business growth. With skills needed on the job which is changing faster than ever, organizations are quickly falling behind on developing the right skills across all levels and they should urgently re-evaluate their learning programs and treat learning and development as a long terms investment, rather than a discretionary training spend item when times are favourable.

Employers should also make use of the Government incentives available to them for employing mature aged workers and recognise that some of these employees prefer to work flexible hours because of other commitments. Employers can accommodate the mature aged worker by implementing work share programs within the business.

Advantages of employing mature aged workers

Mature aged workers have often built up knowledge and skills during their time in the workforce and can help the business to:

  • Look at the business operations from a different perspective;
  • Improve business processes;
  • Fill any skill or knowledge gaps in the workplace
  • Provide mentoring to less experienced employees;
  • Train up the employees by sharing skills

Further evidence suggests that mature aged workers can save the business money due to lower rates of absenteeism, and make the business more productive.