IT’S a sad indictment on today’s society when workplaces have to be “bribed” to hire an older staff member.
One would think that the best qualified person – despite their age – would be the winning candidate for a job.
But apparently society has other opinions.
A new $36 million federal government package was announced yesterday to tackle age discrimination in the workplace and encourage hiring of older staff.
The package includes $10 million in funds over four years to pay for a new jobs bonus of $1000 to 10,000 employers who recruit and retain a worker aged 50 years or over for more than three months.
The Jobs Bonus is designed to encourage businesses to hire more older, skilled Australians as the nation’s population ages. The package also extends to programs that give career advice to older workers.
While the new package, a government response to a major report on the economic potential of senior Australians, has its merits, workplaces should be hiring staff on their own merits, not just because of their age. While it is to be acknowledged that older people have so much knowledge and wisdom to contribute to the tapestry of the Australian workforce, businesses should not have to suffer by hiring the wrong person just to be entitled to the Jobs Bonus.
In announcing the package, Treasurer Wayne Swan said older Australians had a lifetime of skills and the government should do everything it can to help them stay in the workforce. “It’s all about giving older Australians more choice and the opportunity for some extra financial security if they want to keep bringing home a pay cheque in their later years,” Mr Swan said.
While that is true, hiring an older Australian to get the $1000 bonus should not be at the expense of possibly a younger, more qualified person, possibly with a young family to support.
Chairman of the panel that wrote the economic report, Everald Compton, said Australia was only going to prosper if the best attributes of mature-aged Australians were recognised.
“We are wasting good, experienced talent by not harnessing them in every way we can,” Mr Compton said. But harnessing this talent should not come at the expense of younger, possibly more qualified, and sometimes more experienced job-seekers.