Helping mature age Australians back into work is part of a $110 million Mature Age Employment Package. The Turnbull Government announced this project in the 2017–18 budget. Furthermore, the package includes the expansion of the National Work Experience program. Also included are the Pathway to Work pilots. They aim to support mature age Australians access recruitment opportunities on major projects. Other Australians are included in these projects as well.
What’s the initiative?
This initiative aims at creating opportunities for Australians aged over 50 to re-skill and re-enter the workforce. Senator Michaelia Cash is the Minister for Employment. Furthermore, she said the skills and experience accumulated by mature age Australians should not be wasted. This would be a great loss to both the individual and the workforce.
Senator Cash said
“We recognise the immense capacity of mature age Australians and understand the need to provide unique support so they can up-skill and fill key roles in Australian workplaces. By making this targeted investment we are identifying and removing barriers that may be preventing mature age Australians from returning to the workforce.”
Further, the government is committing significant resources to another long-standing problem. Which is that mature aged Australians can remain locked out for long periods following lost employment.
Chief Executive Ian Yates of COTA believes that, while the aim is to allow older Australians to re-enter the workforce, they still may find themselves ‘locked out’
The program will enable participants to boost their skills. Additionally, it is hoped this will strengthen their resilience. Further, they will learn new job-search techniques and better understand the local labour market. Also, they will have access to training in computer and information technology.
Coming to a location near you
The government has announced the Career Transition Assistance Program will initially be trialled in five locations from July 1, 2018. These are Ballarat (VIC), Somerset (QLD), Central West (NSW), Adelaide South (SA) and Perth North (WA). This trial will be followed by a national rollout in 2020.
These regions have distinctly different labour market conditions. Having a diverse group of regions will maximise the lessons that can be learnt from the trial.
COTA raises concerns
Senior’s advocacy group Council on the Ageing (COTA) welcomed the new announcement. However, Chief Executive Ian Yates, has raised some concerns. He believes that, while the aim is to allow older Australians to re-enter the workforce, they still may find themselves ‘locked out’.
Mr. Yates believes more is required to address the full extent of the problem. Such as the prevalence and complexity of age discrimination in Australia. Further, he said “The government must take the initiative by working with the sector. In order to lead the cultural and attitudinal change Australia needs to capitalise on its ageing population.”
What we think
It is pleasing to see a long-standing problem being addressed in such a pro-active manner. The only proviso being that older Australians will not be denied their rights to a work-free retirement until they die. That is the only negative looming on the horizon so far in this otherwise rosy picture.
Other than the self-employed, people who have given their best years to the workforce should not be tethered to working from the cradle to the grave. Can we be sure this program will not apply to people over the minimum retirement age, both now and in the future?
Further program information
The Career Transition Assistance Program will be open to those who are registered with a job active provider. Initially within one of the five regions. Targeting those who are 50 years of age or older. Further details on the program will be released closer to the program start date of 1 July 2018