Working women over 65 to double

The number of women working past the age of 65 is tipped to double in the next 20 years, according to new research commissioned by the National Advisory Council for the Employment of Women (NACEW).

The research, titled Employment of Older New Zealand Women, by economist Dr Paul Callister suggests the number could top 30 percent in a further 20 years.

NACEW has launched a work programme around market participation for this group.

Since the 1990s, there has been strong growth in older women's employment in this country.

NACEW is particularly interested in women in their 'later career years,' defined as 45 years and over who have little or no formal qualifications. "This demographic present potential issues, as we know employment rates increase for women who are more qualified in this age group, versus those who have no qualifications at all," says Traci Houpapa, Chairman of NACEW.

"Women are over-represented in sectors where conditions such as physical labour, low pay and shift work can make employment problematic as these workers age.

"These sectors include aged care and the health sector, where career mobility is essential when existing employment is unsustainable due to high physical demand or when long hours of work are required," continues Traci.

"Age discrimination can also have an impact, reducing the ability of older workers to change careers later in life if issues start to occur, therefore more flexible, sustainable employment is required to enable older workers to stay in the labour force.

"Ageing female workers with low qualifications are therefore seen as a vulnerable sector in the labour force and Dr Callister's presentation is an initial step to progress NACEW's work in this area," she said.

Next steps for the programme will see NACEW seek out partnerships with others doing research into labour force participation of women in this age group, to collaborate and stimulate discussion on employment issues for women in their later career years.

To access the report visit http://www.womenatwork.org.nz

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