Are you overlooking older workers?

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Scores of New Zealand employers are struggling with tricky skills shortages but one talent management expert says the issue would be alleviated if organisations would stop overlooking older applicants.
 
Kate Ross is the founder of Wise Ones – an online platform which helps older job seekers find meaningful employment opportunities – she says over 55s are currently a hugely underutilised demographic.
 
“We hear stories all the time of people who are despondent and losing hope they will ever get another job, even though they have great CVs, are very skilled and have a fantastic work ethic,” says Ross.
 
“At the same time, almost half of businesses say they face a shortage of highly experienced and skilled workers.”
 
Around 80,000 Kiwis have been identified as potential jobseekers and a 100,000 are under-employed or seeking more work. Estimates also show that 11.8 per cent of the working population is under-utilised with many of these over the age of 55.
 
 It’s an issue that’s only going to be exacerbated as the over 55 age bracket grows. According to Statistics New Zealand, there were 1.1 million people in the demographic in 2011 – this is set to balloon to 1.7 million in 2036 and 2.2 million in 2061.
 
“There are many employers who are already embracing this demographic change to our workforce, and are employing a far wider range of ages than they used to, but we need to do more as a county to use all the talent we have,” says Ross.
 
Research from the Commission for Financial Capability shows that 83 per cent of companies have no policies or strategies in place for workers aged over 50 and a separate study found that 40 per cent of workers feel they have been the victim of age discrimination in the past five years.
 
While it seems some employers have a reluctance to hire older workers – either implicit or explicit – Ross says over 55s actually bring a whole host of business benefits.
 
“Earning and being productive boosts confidence and self-esteem for people, and the loyalty, the resilience, and great work ethic should be attractive to any business,” she says.
 

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