Employers are reluctant to hire older workers despite outperforming younger peers in essential skills

Fiona Lamb, Executive General Manager of Employment Services at MAX Solutions

Australian employment services provider, MAX Solutions, has revealed that 30% of employers are reluctant to hire older workers, despite employers identifying a range of essential workplace skills at which older workers tend to excel compared with younger peers.

The Breaking the Age Barrier Report highlights that as our population ages, ensuring the wellbeing and success of older Australians in the workforce is a crucial challenge for the nation as mature-age jobseekers remain over-represented in those looking for work.

MAX Solutions’ Breaking the Age Barrier Report

People aged 55-64 are the largest unemployed group currently on JobSeeker payments.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australians aged 50-64 make up almost 17.8% of our population, yet they represent 28% of MAX’s unemployment figures.

Fiona Lamb is the Executive General Manager of Employment Services at MAX Solutions.

“Despite reluctance amongst employers to hire older workers, 77% of employers believe that mature-age employees benefit their workplace and bring valuable skills to the company.”

“One of the biggest challenges amongst mature-age Australians is a lack of self-confidence.”

“We often see older candidates being too modest at the interview stage or uncertain about how their previous skills are transferable to a different industry or position.”

“We know that they bring significant value to the workplace and are highly adaptable.”

MAX Solutions advocates for mature age workers

Mature-age workers are more adept at vital workplace skills compared with their younger peers, including dispute resolution (57%), mediation (55%) and managing others (55%).

‘Wealth of experience’ is considered the main benefit of mature-age workers by 60% of employers, followed by ‘maturity and stability’ (48%), and ‘reliability and dependability’ (43%).

Whilst digital literacy is perceived as a challenge for mature-age workers, 7 in 10 employers think that older workers learn new digital skills as quickly or more quickly than expected.

Employers should make hiring decisions on the assumption that mature age workers will most likely have, or be able to develop, the necessary skills in this area.

In order to capitalise on the benefits that mature age and older workers can bring to a workplace, employers must move their actions from policy to practice.

While 65% of employers surveyed have a diversity and inclusion policy, only 40% are actively implementing the policy by taking steps to attract and retain older workers.

Ian Yates, Chief Executive at The Council on the Ageing (COTA) said, “The 62% of employers surveyed who have or are considering changes to accommodate older workers show that small actions can make a vast improvement in finding and retaining the right workforce.”

The biggest challenge for older workers is fixed ideas about ways of working (61%), while employers have low awareness or value of mature workers’ experience and skills (56%).

The research consisted of a survey of 500 Australian employers conducted by independent research provider Decibel and a survey of MAX Solutions’ own mature-age customers.