Why we need to hang on to older workers
GOVERNMENTS are finally recognising how valuable it is to keep older Australians in the workforce, seniors specialists say, following Treasurer Scott Morrison's budget boost for mature workers.
And "older" does not only mean Australians of retirement age - many of the new budget measures will help people from their mid-40s.
The $190 million of employment incentives include targeted training, $2000 co-payments for people over 45 to increase their skills, support programs and wage subsidies of up to $10,000 to encourage employers to hire older workers.
The chief executive of seniors group COTA Australia, Ian Yates, welcomed the changes.
"The government has now realised the message that researchers have been telling us for years - with a proportionally shrinking workforce you want to be hanging on to those older workers," he said.
"We know that people that are connected to the workforce are, generally speaking, healthier, and it helps with their retirement incomes."
Mr Yates said older workers would benefit from a new program of online skills and finance check-ups for people aged 45 and 65.
"Age discrimination starts in the mid-40s," he said.
The workforce initiatives combined with improvements to the Pension Work Bonus scheme to allow people to earn $300 a fortnight without affecting age pension payments.Advice firm StatePlus spokesman David Coyne said there was an opportunity for age pensioners to stay connected with the workforce and community.
"Staying active and engaged is a proven happiness indicator in retirement," he said.
The Treasurer's budget speech highlighted wage subsidies of up to $10,000 to be paid to employers who hired mature workers, although many subsidies are already available.
Government officials say up to 30,000 older workers could benefit from the wage subsidies and their value could theoretically be tens of millions of dollars, but both employers and potential workers need to qualify for them through jobactive.gov.au and other government employment programs.
Dixon Advisory head of advice Nerida Cole welcomed the changes and said age 50-plus was the "primary saving time" for people as mortgages were paid off and children became independent, and losing a job could devastate people financially and psychologically.
"Finding anything after you have lost a job past the age of 50 is much harder - the statistics back that up," she said.