A Coming Of Age

One result of the fallout from dot-com failures in the United States is that there’s new premium on retired CEOs. Many are being lured back into business because their track record and experience help make company financial backers feel more secure.

In New Zealand, job seekers with few miles on the clock could be forgiven for lying about their age because their maturity is often barrier to employment.

The EEO Trust has identified older workers as group most likely to face job discrimination. recent study also found would-be employers tend to equate experience with expense and age with inability to learn.

Mature job seekers questioned in recent Massey University study regard their age as major barrier to employment. They say there’s perception younger folk are cheaper to employ and ought to be given chance.

There are also suggestions that the skills older folk have acquired are now redundant and rapidly changing business world will out-pace them.

Which probably helps explain why those in the 45-54 age group now make up big chunk of the long-term unemployed. According to Statistics NZ figures for the year 2000, 46.5 percent of that age group had been out of work 27 weeks or more compared to 18.6 percent in the 15-19 age band. Men in their early 50s who have been made redundant are most vulnerable.

The study by Professor Judy McGregor and Lance Gray shows that mature job seekers are energetic in their efforts – at least for the first six months. That’s about the length of time high level of effort can be sustained before failure takes too big toll on their motivation and confidence.

The authors point out that the voice of mature job seekers is not often heard en masse but in this study reveals “anger, frustration and increasing isolation”. Policy agencies, says McGregor, need to heed the social and emotional costs of mature unemployment.

Finding ways to avoid sidelining older workers would also make better business sense – given they represent an ever-increasing proportion of the workforce.

In another decade New Zealand’s “baby boomers” – all 1.125 million of them will be between 45 and 55 years old and older workers will make up larger proportion of the workforce than their youthful colleagues.

The EEO Trust notes that the number or workers aged between 45 and 64 rose by 31 percent in the past decade.

The Trust’s executive director Trudie McNaughton advises mature job seekers to approach companies where they can be assured of fair treatment – such as the members of the EEO Employers Group.

Companies that strive to create balanced workplace environment will be recognised at the EEO Trust Work & Life Awards dinner on August 22.

Now into their fifth year, the awards are gaining ground both in the quantity and quality of entries, the Trust reports. However, the number and nature of this year’s entrants for the five award categories will remain under wraps until the presentation ceremony.

Also up in the air is the identity of the awards presenter, though Prime Minister Helen Clark has filled that role for the past two years and is apparently keen to do so again.

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