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The grey army advances

It’s time for business to realise the value of mature workers

Mature people are some of the best and most reliable workers, and employers need to change their attitudes and welcome them into their workforce, or keep them if they already have them.

That’s was the message from the recent Older Workers and business growth strategy forum in Sydney. “This forum is one of the most important meetings for business this year” said Ian Yates, Chief Executive of COTA Australia, the peak body for older Australians.

At the forum more than 90 CEO’s, HR managers and recruitment personnel from a wide range of companies and organisations operating in Australia gathered to talk with the Age Discrimination Commissioner, Hon. Susan Ryan, along with a range of economic and employment experts.

“From now on to be sustainable and successful businesses are going to have to retain and recruit older workers, and for too many employers this requires a change of attitude,” Mr Yates said.

A report released at the forum by the Australian Human Rights Commission predicted a boost of billions to the national economy arising from increases in workforce participation by older workers.

According to the Grey army advances report, prepared by Deloitte Access Economics, current growth in mature age workforce participation is already expected to see a $55 billion increase in national income by 2024-25.

A three per cent additional increase in mature age workforce participation would mean the national economy would be a further $33 billion larger. If it could achieve a lift of 5 percent, it would add $47.9 billion per annum.

“We can strengthen the laws that already outlaw age discrimination in the workplace, but the real challenge is for businesses to have policies and processes in place that remove any trace of ageism in their workforce practices,” Mr Yates said.

“Some companies already do it very well, but too many don’t, and we hope after [this forum] more CEO’s will spread the word about the value and necessity of employing older Australians.”

“People are living longer, want or need to work longer, and older workers are needed in the workforce if the Australian economy is to grow,” said Age Discrimination Commissioner, Susan Ryan. “Older workers are the obvious and available major solution to skills shortages currently holding back economic growth.”

The forum was aimed at helping those who make recruitment decisions understand the many very real benefits of employing older workers and then acting in the interests of both mature workers and their business.

Mr Yates said “In general, older Australians are significantly more productive than their younger counterparts, have fewer sickies, a better safety record, and lower turnover. These benefits, together with their experience and reliability, makes them extremely valuable workers. This is why age discrimination doesn’t make sense.”

“We hope the business leaders who have gathered in Sydney today for this forum will now take positive steps towards stopping age discrimination and give all older Australians a fair go in their workplace.”

At the conclusion of the forum, the participants developed a communiqué setting out practical steps that would achieve these remarkable results. The Forum’s Communique is available at:

The Grey army advances report is available at:


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Alana Lowes

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