INDEPENDENT NEWS

The ‘gold’ in our older workforce

Published: Tue 2 Sep 2014 02:54 PM
The ‘gold’ in our older workforce
Age Concern Tauranga and the Tauranga Chamber of Commerce have joined forces to create a discussion forum on the ‘why, how and spin-offs’ of workforce generation change, to be held on the 18th of September.
The purpose is to promote awareness of and encourage action to address the options for older workers to exercise a choice to remain in work beyond conventional retirement and for employers to retain the skills and experience needed for their businesses. As a collaboration, the project brings together Age Concern’s mission of “serving the needs of older people” and the Chamber’s focus on “business vitality”. Topics at the forum will include practical examples of businesses that cater well to older workers and by doing so strengthen their competitiveness and productivity.
Against the gloomy predictions of the ‘burden’ of population ageing comes a refreshing discussion about the economic and social opportunities of an older workforce such as we will be seeing in New Zealand over the next few decades. As very recently highlighted by Brian Gaynor: “There is no doubt that a greying workforce is a positive development for the New Zealand economy. This is because it helps retain our more highly skilled workers, it enables younger people to obtain additional education and it keeps the pressure off wages increases, inflation and interest rates.” Of equal importance is the social, health and wellbeing benefits of opportunities for an extended working life for those who so choose.
This has been recognised locally in the Tauranga Age Friendly City Strategy which includes the aim of encouraging businesses in Tauranga to realise the economic opportunities created by an ageing population through the promotion of age-friendly practices. The context for it is population ageing and the now well recognised implications for New Zealand in terms of the participation of older people in the economy, their financial and social wellbeing in later life and concerns about the dependency ratio (reduced proportion of younger workers and growing proportion of an older generation needing support).
The EEO Trust has found from its recent diversity surveys that for over half of respondents an ageing workforce is a top diversity concern. It is promising that so many businesses are recognising this is an emerging issue, but what is worrying is that responses have consistently shown that almost two thirds of organisations are unprepared to manage or support such an age diverse workforce.
Lest it be thought that managing through an ageing workforce is within the capability only of larger employers,
a recent Australian report notes that in both Australia and New Zealand SMEs will need to be at the forefront, as our biggest employer group. It is, for sure, time to plan for demographic shifts and to take advantage of the opportunities.
Event: Older Workforce Forum
Date: Thursday 18th September
Where: Mount Club, Totara Street, Mount Maunganui
Time: 8:30am – 2:30pm
ends

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