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More action needed on mature age employment.



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THE HON KEVIN ANDREWS MP

MINISTER FOR EMPLOYMENT AND WORKPLACE RELATIONS MINISTER ASSISTING THE PRIME MINISTER FOR THE PUBLIC SERVICE

Media Release

08905

More Action Needed On Mature Age Employment

The Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Kevin Andrews today called on Australian companies to increase their efforts to recruit and retain mature age Australians.

Mr Andrews said many companies were not doing enough to implement "age-friendly" policies, which were vital given Australia’s rapidly ageing population.

Mr Andrews today presented awards to four companies which have specific programs and policies to retain and recruit mature age Australians.

He presented "Mature Age Workers’ Employer Champion" awards to Westpac Banking Corporation, Socobell OEC based in Spotswood in Melbourne, Aurora Energy in Tasmania and Magnet Mart in Canberra - at a function at Magnet Mart’s Gungahlin store.

"These are smart companies - because they recognise the business case for retaining, and recruiting, mature age Australians," Mr Andrews said.

"Australia needs "age-friendly" workplaces as much as it needs "family-friendly" workplaces, where workers are recognised for their skills and abilities, not judged because of their age.

"I commend these Employer Champions for leading the way and urge other Australian companies to follow their lead - to see their mature age workers as assets they cannot afford to lose.

"Companies must have flexible employment policies - such as phased retirement and job sharing - to retain older staff.

They should consider conducting an "age profile" of their workforce; speaking to staff aged over 40 about their retirement intentions and implementing strategies to promote mature age employment.

"While most Australian companies are aware of demographic changes, few are doing anything about it, which is very disappointing. Given labour and skills shortages, it is essential that organisations do all they can to recruit and retain older Australians. Those that do will have a substantial advantage over their competitors."

Employer Champion Award Winners:

Magnet Mart, a hardware chain largely based in the Canberra region, seeks to maintain an age-balanced workforce, with a recruitment focus on utilising past employment experience and expertise. Approximately 40% of the staff employed by Magnet Mart’s seven stores are aged 45 and over, with this mature age trend extending through to one part time staff member aged 75. Magnet Mart has recognised the need to have experienced staff to provide sound advice and efficient service to their trade customers, and greatly value the prior trades backgrounds and general life experience of their employees. Magnet Mart has made a policy of recruiting on the basis of prior experience and encourages mature age job seekers to apply for positions within the company.

Socobell OEM is a plastics manufacturer which prides itself on being an equal opportunity employer that actively avoids age discrimination in the workplace. Mature age workers represent 38% of staff in the workplace, led by the elder co-owner of the company who is now in his 70s. Socobell has taken advantage of the fact that their work is generally not physically demanding, providing an excellent employment option for mature aged people. Recognising that workers may want to alter their work/life balance as they age, mature age workers are also provided with flexible part-time work options for a phased retirement.

Westpac Banking Corporation have assessed the business case for employing older staff and have implemented a sustainable ‘Age Balance’ strategy to employ and retain mature age workers. Westpac has particularly noted the advantages of matching the demographics of their employees to the demographics of their clients. In 2002, the company committed to recruiting 900 mature age workers by 2005 and implemented a number of initiatives to attain this goal. The company exceeded their target by employing 911 mature age workers by the beginning of November 2004. From this year, age awareness training will also be incorporated into leadership training across the organisation. The company is also committed to promoting the benefits of mature age workers in the wider community.

Aurora Energy, a Tasmanian government-owned electricity distribution and retail company, has a high percentage of mature age workers, with 43% over the age of 45. Aurora has implemented a range of human resource policies designed to effectively manage all workers, with a particular focus on retaining and managing the needs of their mature age workers. These policies include: purely merit-based recruitment; an equal employment opportunity workplace policy; performance management and leadership development practices that allow for the effective development of employees irrespective of age; flexible working arrangements; health and fitness promotion to all employees; flexible rehabilitation strategies for injured employees; recognition of physical ability restrictions and strategies for retaining mature age workers by finding alternate roles where necessary; deliberate partnering of newer staff with mature age employees and phased retirement.

* The criteria for recognition as a Mature Age Workers’ Employer Champion are: successfully implementing a mature age employment policy; workforce age profile reflecting an age balance (ie: at least 20% mature age staff) and

http://www.dewrsb.gov.au/ministersAndMediaCentre/mediacentre/printable.asp?show=3263 (2 of 3) [14/03/2005 11:59:04 AM]

implementing policies or an age management plan recognised by staff and customers.

For more information see www.jobwise.gov.au

For further information contact:

Russ Street 0417 044 712

14/03/2005