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Older workers 'discouraged' from job seeking.

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MEDIA OLDER WORKERS ‘DISCOURAGED’ FROM JOB SEEKING Older unemployed workers are dropping out of job searching because they are being told they are too old, and the Job Network is not doing enough to help them according to the Australian Democrats. Democrats Employment spokesperson Senator John Cherry said despite employment growth, many older workers had given up looking for work, with insufficient help from Job Network providers to make them job ready. "Many Job Network providers now assume that the unemployed will do their job search on the internet, despite the fact that many older unemployed do not have these skills," Senator Cherry said. "It is not surprising then, to find that recent employment data found that the only category of 'discouraged jobseekers' that rose in 2003, was that of the 60-plus workers, with drops in all other age groups. "The number of 60 plus workers who wanted to work, but had given up looking for work, rose 40% in 2003, from 17,900 to 25,300. "61% of older workers cited 'considered too old by employers' as the reason for giving up looking for work, 9% citing a lack of skills or training and 25.5% citing a lack of jobs. "The problem of discouraged workers is clearly enormous in the mature aged categories, when you consider that there were 39,000 workers aged over 55 officially unemployed, but a further 33,000 not regarded as 'unemployed' because they had given up looking for work. "In fact, there were 114,900 mature aged workers who wanted to work, but who fell outside the official definition of unemployment. Adding in these workers raises the unemployment rate for mature aged workers from the 'official' level of 3.2% to a more dramatic 11.5%, which is a shameful, wasteful use of the skills and experience of mature aged employers. "The Howard Government needs to acknowledge that mature aged workers face serious age discrimination problems in the workforce. The Independent Review of the Job Network in 2002 found the system was letting mature aged workers down, and clearly little has improved since them. "A major concerted effort is needed to re-educate employers about the reliability and productivity of mature aged workers to break down prejudices against employing older workers. SENATOR JOHN CHERRY


04/289 MONDAY 12 APRIL 2004


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"A comprehensive community-based employment program is also needed to give these workers the

skills, training and confidence that they need to survive in a tough labour market," Senator Cherry said.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics also revealed last month that the official unemployment rate rises from 5.8% to a massive 15.9% when a wider definition of unemployment (i.e. available for work within four weeks rather than immediately) is used.

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