Australia’s biggest barrier for opportunity is age discrimination: report

Working later or retiring early? It’s a choice taken away by age discrimination.

woman wringing her hands

Almost one in two baby boomers believes age is the reason employers have been rejecting their job applications, according to a new report by professional networking site LinkedIn.

These findings add to recent reports revealing negative attitudes towards baby boomer workers, such as believing them to be slow and incapable of adapting to new technologies.

Indeed Hiring Lab Australia economist Callam Pickering says such stigmatisation and discrimination against older workers is bad for business and bad news for the entire workforce.

“Putting a monetary value on it is difficult … but speaking more broadly, research consistently shows that there’s huge value in employing people from a diverse range of backgrounds and experiences,” Mr Pickering told The New Daily.

“We know that diverse teams tend to be better at problem-solving and they tend to be more profitable as well.”

According to LinkedIn, boomers believe that lack of financial resources, ageism and a difficult job market are the main barriers preventing them from finding jobs.

YourLifeChoices research reveals that ageism is most prevalent in the workplace with 23 per cent of members polled saying they first experienced ageism in the workplace in their 50s and 21 per cent in their 60s.

Just over one in four (27 per cent) older Australians had experienced workplace discrimination – often during the hiring process, according to a 2015 report from the Australian Human Rights Commission. Because of this, a third of the group opted for early retirement.

While ageism is often used as a term for discrimination against older people, it’s not a ‘one-way’ attitude, says the report.

“Age also manifests itself as a barrier in a different way for younger workers (Gen Z), such as a lack of work experience (25 per cent) and confidence (21 per cent), as well as the lack of direction and guidance (13 per cent),” says LinkedIn.

Mr Pickering says that most employers assume that older people are incapable of learning new technologies and that strong growth in tech-heavy service jobs might be exacerbating the issue.

“Another important factor is simply that they might be less willing to invest in an older worker because they assume that worker is going to retire sooner rather than later,” he says.

“And so if they have a choice between a 30-year-old employee who might stick around for 15 or 20 years, versus a 55-year old who might hang around for five years, they might prefer that younger worker.”

While many feel pessimistic about the state of their economy, there are signs that this perception is changing, underscored by 45 per cent of respondents who feel confident about finding better opportunities this year.

“This research gives us a sense of how confident people are that there is an opportunity out there for them. It’s comforting to see that despite the backdrop of worry about all that is going on in the world, people are still encouraged about their opportunities to get ahead,” said LinkedIn chief economist Karin Kimbrough.

“But we also know that the way we live and work is changing rapidly, and that people across the globe will have to adapt and adjust to take advantage of the opportunities the new economy will bring. It’s on each of us to create the environment that helps people reach their ambitions – to help people take risks or invest in themselves so they earn skills and experience and build networks that help them get the jobs they want.”

However, this is where independent economist Dr Jim Stanford, who heads The Australia Institute’s Centre for Future Work, sees a problem.

The unemployment rate sits at just 5.1 per cent, says Dr Stanford, but a further 8.3 per cent are working fewer hours than they would like to be.

“The problem we have is a shortage of jobs, not a shortage of people to do the jobs,” said Dr Stanford.

Instead of telling older workers that they should stay in the labour market and work until they’re 70, we should be encouraging them to retire by giving them secure and decent pensions, he says.

“And when they do that, they’ll be helping to make room for young people who have got skills and energy but can’t find work.”

Robert Tickner, co-chair of advocacy campaign EveryAge Counts, agrees, saying that some workers would prefer to retire early, but working into later life should ultimately be a matter of choice – one that’s taken away by age discrimination.

Mr Tickner sees a need for more age discrimination awareness and a minister of longevity appointed to address discrimination and help older Australians continue working.

“We want our political leaders to be sending the right messages. But we also need to get our employers to hear the message: that you wouldn’t discriminate on the basis of race, so you shouldn’t discriminate on the basis of age,” said Mr Tickner.

“It’s bad economics. It’s bad risk management. And it’s illegal.”

Increased longevity means people will continue to work well beyond their retirement years “making multigenerational workforces a reality among businesses with up to four generations of employees working together for the very first time”, says LinkedIn.

“Embracing a multigenerational workforce will be key to navigating an evolving job market and harness it as a growth driver of today’s economy.”

Where do you most experience age discrimination? Were you ever denied a job or an interview because of your age? Did you retire early because you couldn’t find a job in your later years? Would you still be working if you could?

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17th Feb 2020
The ironical thing is the older person will stick around the longest. They know how tough it is out there to get a job so they’ll hang onto one. Not so for the younger younger set.
Baby Huey
17th Feb 2020
Age discrimation is endemic in Australia. It appears both businesses and governments simply do not want to give older Australians a fair go. The Age Discrimination Act is a joke as the onus of proof is on the complainent and list of exemptions, including federal and state governments, is so wide you can drive several B-doubles side by side through the loop holes.
Centrelink is fully exempted.
Instead of retraining and adapting work places for older Australians who already have skills to continue to be productive citizens the federal government and business prefer to have high immigration, often on temporary visas, importing the "skills".
Both sides of politics have the same goal to make older Australians who want to work second class citizens subject to discrimination. So mouch for the Aussie fair go.
17th Feb 2020
Totally agree Baby. I recently applied for a casual job with a major local supermarket chain. I was recently interviewed by someone easily in early 20's, tattoos all down arm, and numerous ear piercings. She actually asked why someone my age wanted to work, and even asked 'does your husband still work?' (presumptuous little so and so - I am single). So I made a formal complaint to their HR department, and got the reply along the lines - "'our internal investigation has founds the grounds for your complaint to be unfounded. Thank you for your feedback".
What chance have we got? I now will not ever apply for any more jobs. It is a total waste of time and effort.

17th Feb 2020
Hey Leon (Della Bosca), congratulations, you have left out of this article, gender aspects, featuring, 'women are worse off and discriminated against' (than men).

Well done, and a very commendable approach. Hope it was not just an oversight by accident..
17th Feb 2020
That's because men are discriminated against, and women are favoured especially where senior roles are concerned at an older age. They don't want to worry about men!
17th Feb 2020
George - I nearly fell off my chair. You are joking right? My last big job was in govt, in HR. One reason why I left was the constant and continual discrimination of incompetent senior aged men being promoted or hired over experienced and competent women, of ANY age. In my department, there were over 60 senior level managers/supervisors. Of those, 43 were men, and many of those men were clean hires, the position given to new incomers, ignoring highly experienced internal senior females. It was rampant, and no matter HOW many statistical reports I did, it didn't make an ounce of difference.

I even had a written warning made against me because of my stand on the matter. One of the major reason why I left, when I was refused a senior position, job given to an almost new male graduate. Feedback after my interview, I was told that they felt 'he had better prospect to take the position forward'. He lasted 4 months, but I was already gone.

As I've worked in HR/payroll most of my life, I have NEVER experienced or seen what you mentioned. Never.
17th Feb 2020
Well "Older and Wiser", Govt HR, yours must be the only anomaly that does not have quotas for women and 'women only' identified jobs. This is the trouble with women. no matter what they are given in preferences, priorities, and quotas, the victim mentality prevails.

Can I suggest that anyone in HR can't get a job in the 'real' workforce. HR like every other present day environment is dominated for and by women, the same as in teaching, ALL Government appointments and the Family Court. You can even throw in 1/3 to 2/3 the sentencing period, for sentencing for criminal offences. The criminal offending by women has even increased in proportion to and because of some 'preferential species' mentality that imperviates women because of their exemption status. I worked where 2 of the positions were 'women only'. The women were also attached to a career path senior officer overseer to ensure the path for the woman's advancement was carved in stone.

So please deo not let the prevailing victim mentality over ride self assessment.

We as a Society have registered men as the aliens of our population.
18th Feb 2020
Yours must be a rare experience, older&wiser! With Affirmative Action favouring women over more qualified males (no two people are ever equal), such discrimination is / has been widespread in Govt roles. In HR particularly, as Olde has noted, in both Govt & Private sector, females dominate most senior roles, form cliques, and do not allow men to get a foot in. However, HR females are also known to be the b.tchiest, and may not allow certain females who don't toe their line to progress as well.

Also, in the Private sectors, I am aware of widespread discrimination against men especially when it comes to more senior roles, partly by very senior males keen to hire subservient females who lie / do the dirty work for them (note Trump's successful women spokespersons, etc) as well as show the world that they are being fair to women!
This is also driven by the regular reporting all large companies do, as per Govt-enforced rules, about the so-called "progress" in improving women's employment into higher roles.
19th Feb 2020
Positive discrimination in Australia is alive and well and its effects as widespread as the influence of politically correctness. I am aware of many university scholarships and bursaries being given to women, as well as graduate opportunities, ahead of better qualified male candidates. In recent decades it, and nepotism, sexual discrimination has dramatically reduced among the experienced workforce with more roles being assigned on merit. That said, in some cultures it is the reverse circumstance with incompetent but privileged males routinely being promoted ahead of some of the most capable females I have found in the global workforce.
17th Feb 2020
It seems you are only of value between the age of 30 and 45. Doesn't give much hope to either end of the employment spectrum. It reflects the very low standard of management around the world.
Wendy HK
17th Feb 2020
Not even! I was 40 and "too old" - wanted someone who would stay the distance.
The irony was they employed a 20 y.o. (who I knew) - she only wanted a job to save for an overseas trip - left after 18 months.
I did get a job - started casual and progressed to 2IC stayed there until I was 54!
Designated Driver
17th Feb 2020
There is one simple way to enable workers to get the maximum return from their Super Fund.
Pay everyone weekly.
The sooner your contributions reach your fund, the quicker they will accumulate & take advantage of the increased growth that compound interest delivers.
Weekly payments would have the same effect on mortgages and provide faster growth for the economy.
It would also make it far easier for people (particularly the elderly) to plan and manage their finances.
19th Feb 2020
good idea, and I suspect a welcome side benefit of fewer workers being stooged on their super contributions by recalcitrant employers
17th Feb 2020
Age discrimination in the work force is rampant. Mainly it comes from younger employees, management and other subordinates. I would've have been happy to work in my employment for another 5-years rather than retiring at 65, if it wasn't for the cruelty from the younger employees and management.
17th Feb 2020
That is a key point - employers promote younger people into senior roles, and those people have no confidence to hire and deal with more experienced and older people who will know the job better than them. Can't beat them up too!

There should be strong justification to put younger people in any senior roles overriding the significant experience older people can bring into roles, yet one never hears of any employer, including the Govt, placing strong value on decades of experience. I think this is they key to stop discrimination - ensure high weightage is given to years of experience.
18th Feb 2020
A very good point George. Insurance for work injuries also needs to be sorted. It has not kept up with the rises in age pension and becomes a problem for employers of workers over 65.
Sometimes it is also a money issue. In casual positions often the younger workers are cheaper to employ.

17th Feb 2020
"...we also need to get our employers to hear the message: that you wouldn’t discriminate on the basis of race, so you shouldn’t discriminate on the basis of age,” said Mr Tickner." Where has he been / where does he live? Other than Age, the next biggest, or may be the biggest, form of discrimination is based on race or background! Australia is way behind USA in giving a fair go to a variety of sections of the population.
17th Feb 2020
""Instead of telling older workers that they should stay in the labour market and work until they’re 70, we should be encouraging them to retire by giving them secure and decent pensions, he says.
“And when they do that, they’ll be helping to make room for young people who have got skills and energy but can’t find work.”"

Ageist much?????

" shouldn’t discriminate on the basis of age,” said Mr Tickner.
“It’s bad economics. It’s bad risk management. And it’s illegal.”"

Ah yes, but try and prove thät you didn't get the job, or promotion or upskilling opportunity because of your advanced age!

"“And so if they have a choice between a 30-year-old employee who might stick around for 15 or 20 years, versus a 55-year old who might hang around for five years, they might prefer that younger worker.”"

Except that USA research (Bureau of Labor Statistics) says average duration of jobs among jobs held by workers ages 25 to 34, the median tenure is 2.8 years. From ages 35 to 44, the median job duration was 4.9 years, and from 45 to 54, the median tenure at a job was 7.6 years. Median tenure rose to 10.1 years for workers aged 55 to 64.

Australian research (HILDA, Department of Employment) has the under 25s on average tenure of 1yr 8mths, 25-35 - 2yrs 8mths, 35-44 - 4yrs, 45+ - 6yrs 8mths.

So tell me again, who is more likely to leave and who is more likely to 'stick around'?
17th Feb 2020
What our founding fathers said in parliament in 1908:

We wish to honour the sentiments of the legislators who introduced the Age Pension in Parliament in 1908. When it became law, it was commended with the following words: “… it removes the idea of old-age pensions from any suggestion of a charitable allowance. An old man, who has done his duty as a citizen for 25 years (is) as much entitled to a pension as a commander-in-chief or a chief justice.”
End Quote: _____

The pension was a reward for service. It should still be considered in this light. It is not a handout.

Therefore, a pension is not welfare.

But modern politicians have stuffed it up completely

It is time to kill off this insane hugely expensive pensioner whacking bureaucracy.

It is time for all of us (yes that means you) to rant at our MPs and Senators daily to take action for human decency and a huge stress reduction for pensioners

Most economist say we will save taxpayers money by dropping asset testing because of the massive overheads cost in running Centrelink and the 10,000 conflicting rules.

Hiring more Centrelink staff will only increase taxpayer’s costs for processing the creeping insane red tape monster system politicians and well paid bureaucrats have created.

Help scrap it now. Become a hero.

Even the UK and poorer New Zealand has a NO ASSET pension, so it is cheaper and user friendly.

Why worry that few million$ earners get it too. That is peanuts to them, not enough for a good vintage champagne.

Do retired and retiring people really look forward and want 100++ visits to/from Centrelink and be hassled by their crazed robo-debt scam and then waste even more time in the 3 million people waiting queues and more lost calls?

We all (that means you) need to tell our MP and senators every day that these criminal asset tests for a pension must be dropped now.

Ask your MP do they really like being part of the system that allows this indirect abuse of the elderly?

This abuse is actually sponsored by our government and forced down to Centrelink and borders on a criminal act.

Why do MPs normally compassionate persons let this Centrelink abuse happen at taxpayers’ expense?
17th Feb 2020
Well I was very lucky I retire at 65 and decide that still have abilities to keep working so I went to TAFE and got a Cert-IV and Diploma for teaching and almost immediately got a job as teacher on a private company then I move to TAFE thinking that I may work until 75 he he he he Yeahhh the F,,, gov change all the TAFE rules, increase the cost of courses for students and then at 70 I found myself out of the job without students Thanks to TAFE changes and now TAFE is almost all online wowowowowo they really destroyed TAFE ...... so Yeahhhhh I was lucky manage to work until 70 then I found myself in real economic problems ..... Only pension as Income and almost impossible to have a decent life in Australia so I PO overseas for 6 to 8 month in the year and have a great retire life..... Back to AU stay with my kids for a couple of month than out again with a basic pension only and nothing else no Medicare or any other goodies.... But a great life now I am 76 and keep going healthy and full of life....... This is my history..... Follow me if you can he he he he I guarantee a great retirement life living in Asian countries making lots of new friends and jumping like a Roo from one to another until I can not longer jump he he he he
17th Feb 2020
Are you serious? If you were a teacher in Australia I will eat my hat! Your poor use of the English language in your post is evidence that you were nothing of the sort. But yeah I get it. You worked for enough years in Australia to qualify for the age pension so you bounce between countries in order to continue to qualify for a handout from the Australian government. Follow you? No thanks.
18th Feb 2020
Good luck to you maelcolium .... Be constructive not insulting that is why Australia is the way it is because people like you that do not respect and only insult..... So here I am getting down to your lower level responding to your message.

Learn to be constructive and share your good experiences in this forum of decent people not rubbish like you that has nothing to do other than be Racist and hate everybody that is doing good.... Wowowowo you are another rubbish person …. I feel sorry for you ….. I do think you deserve to be a Mate of any great Australian …. So Yes I fell sorry for you … you will be alone and angry person until you Die …….

Maybe you are not Australian because Australians do not write rubbish like this Australians are great people compasionate and fantastic friends ..... You are not so I wonder where you come from ????? ... no no do not bother to tell me will be a waste of time any way

Now I will ignore any other comment you insult me …. Have a angry life
17th Feb 2020
I worked until I was 69 and despite advising my employer of 18 years that I would retire at 70 it was 'suggested' that I should leave 18 months early. No reason given, I was still involved in an industry I had worked in for over 40 years and knew my clients well. But the pay-out was pathetic and an acrimonious ending ensued that suited nobody. So much for working past retirement age. Again the fed gov in cuckoo land.
17th Feb 2020
He He I agreed made in Cukoo land seating warming the Hawaian chairs next to the pool ... he he he he They are a total incompetent bastards they do not care about us at all ....
17th Feb 2020
Aussie - Sorry mate, but I don't think your playing with a full deck.
18th Feb 2020
maelcolium ..... You again in this post ...wowowo why you hate me ???? I done nothing to you I just share my experiences in life and you keep kicking me on every post Why do you hate me ??????

Is because I am lucky and you are not ???? wowowowowo
17th Feb 2020
Maelcolium : maybe you need to improve your own grammar before criticising others.....
And you do not need perfect English to track mechanical skills, carpentry, welding, painting and decorating, beauty salon skills .....I could go on.
18th Feb 2020
Indeed Maggie. Private job providers do employ older tradespeople in training sessions as it pays very well. Nothing like gaining some of the billions the government is flinging at the privateers doing previously public service activities.
17th Feb 2020
Sorry, I meant teach not track.

18th Feb 2020
Ageism/Stupid Young Twitism - two sides of the same coin... one amateur manager trains another... and so it goes.... perhaps two out of every one hundred actually make the grade.. the rest are either petty little tyrants, too dumb to poke a stick at, selfish and self-centred, psychopaths in the workplace, or grasping at straws every day to try for some semblance of skill.

Management these days has fallen by the wayside, and nowhere more evidently than in government with affirmative action and other silly policies in a hothouse sheltered workshop environment that welcomes orchids who wouldn't survive five seconds outside.

Boy Colonels and Girl Generals... not worth a cracker in a real situation.
18th Feb 2020
The unemployment rate sits at just 5.1 per cent, says Dr Stanford, but a further 8.3 per cent are working fewer hours than they would like to be.

“The problem we have is a shortage of jobs, not a shortage of people to do the jobs,” said Dr Stanford.

Instead of telling older workers that they should stay in the labour market and work until they’re 70, we should be encouraging them to retire by giving them secure and decent pensions, he says.

“And when they do that, they’ll be helping to make room for young people who have got skills and energy but can’t find work.”
19th Feb 2020
You can not have work skills without years and years of work experience. You can't gain experience if you can't find work, no matter how much energy one has. Pushing older, more experienced, workers out to pasture to make room for younger people, karma will catch up to younger people as they become older themselves. It's a vicious circle. What goes around comes around !!!
19th Feb 2020
People can work longer if they choose to but many people cannot work longer, those who have been made redundant in their 50's have to wait a long time to get a pension, the main issue here is there is a shortage of jobs and shortage of hours, just last night I saw on the news that Jetstar have many people only doing 20 hours a week work. Helping some people retire earlier would help. The parcel delivery guy who comes here is only in his late 40's and tells me he has enough money in his super to retire but they won't allow him to access it. He works on contract and has to worry whether he can get another one or not, and if not how to find work. I really don't understand your comment about karma catching up with the younger people, it is not their fault that there is a lack of work.
19th Feb 2020
I first experienced age discrimination when just into my 40's. Although the position demanded a high level of experience (bookkeeper), the "boss" said he would "feel like I was giving my grandmother orders". This was not said directly to me, but to the head of the professional agency I belonged to, who was as shocked as I was. Needless to say I did not fill that position. I do admit to a wry smile when, a couple of weeks later I learned that the young lady he had hired, had crashed the accounting system the company was using.

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