Election promise to target mature-age jobseekers
THE playing field for mature-age job seekers is set to even out with the introduction of a back to work program for people aged 55 and over.
In a pre-election commitment announced by the Palaszczuk Government, a special Back to Work boost for mature-aged jobseekers will be open for applications for a six-month period, beginning on January 1.
Similarly to the youth boost for workers under the age of 25, employers in Gladstone will be eligible for up to a $20,000 payment to assist people struggling to find work.
Gladstone Engineering Alliance is one local organisation ready to make use of the program should it come into effect from January 1.
GEA trainee Susan Fitton turns 55 this month and is due to finish a Conservation and Land Management traineeship early next year.
Ms Fitton said the program would ensure she could return to the workforce once her training is complete.
"I'd been unemployed for some time and had been doing volunteer work for the past couple of years.
"I wanted to get back in to the workforce but found it difficult. I sent out lots of resumes and got almost no opportunity to get in front of people.
"Even though you don't put your age on your resume, employers can see from previous jobs that you're not in your 20s or 30s so I think I was really missing out.
"I have a lot to still offer an employer and even though we're over 55 with the retirement age at 70 we've still got 15 more years of work.
"Mature-aged students and mature-aged workers have learnt a lot over the years and we've got life skills.
"In certain industries employers could gain a lot more by giving us the opportunity rather than the younger ones."
Ms Fitton said the Back to Work mature-age program was a step in the right direction for people in her age group.
"I hope I'll at least be able to get in front of people now and they'll take the time to get to know me and see that I've got something to offer."
GEA projects and grants officer Julie Gelder said the program will level the playing field for employers when choosing between employing a mature-age or younger jobseeker.
"This is a fantastic announcement. Gladstone Engineering Alliance currently run a Skilling Queenslanders for Work traineeship program where our trainees are aged from 17 right through until 63," she said.
"We've been able to through previous Youth Boost and Back to Work programs to place our younger participants into work with employers more easily than the mature-age people.
"This initiative will truly assist us because sometimes the more mature-age people miss out because an employer will use youth over mature age.
"It will assist more mature-age people and will make it a level playing field because sometimes they are overlooked because of the funding which comes with a younger person."
Member for Gladstone Glenn Butcher said the Back to Work program has already assisted 409 jobseekers back to work in the Gladstone area and introducing an extra incentive for job seekers over 55 will address some of the challenges they face.
"Under the Boost, employers who take on a mature-aged jobseeker will be eligible for up to $20,000," he said.
"This will bring the mature-aged payments into line with the current $20,000 Youth Boost payment for young jobseekers.
Mr Butcher said the Mature-Aged Workers Boost recognised the particular challenges facing older workers seeking to re-enter the labour market after a period of unemployment.
"I have spoken to many people over 55 struggling to find work and I know that this incentive will address these needs," Mr Butcher said.
Up to $5 million will be committed to deliver the Mature-Aged Workers Boost under Back to Work.