PM admits public service is behind in hiring older Aussies
Scott Morrison has told the Australian Public Service Commissioner "we need to do more" to keep older Australians in the bureaucracy and attract extra from outside its ranks.
The Daily Telegraph can reveal the Prime Minister this week wrote to APSC boss Peter Woolcott saying the new workforce strategy being developed for the service should examine "what more can and should be done by the APS, departmental secretaries and agency leads to ensure we harness the skills and experience of older Australians who want to stay in the workforce".
Mr Morrison put pen to paper after The Daily Telegraph reported that while unemployment among over 65s is soaring, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) has just one person beyond retirement age among its more than 2000 staff.
The APSC is part of PM&C and Mr Morrison is the Minister for the Public Service.
In his letter, the PM said that "that while the APS has made strong progress in hiring people with those top skills that better reflects the diversity of Australia, we need to do more to support older Australians who want to join and stay in the public service.
"The age demographic of the APS has not changed significantly in recent years. We need to do better to offer the right training and flexibility for working Australians of all ages in the APS," Mr Morrison said.
"We should do everything we can to support older Australians in the APS who want to keep working."
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg recently said the ageing population was putting "new demands" on the aged care and pension systems.
He urged Australians to retrain as they got older so they could stay in work and ease those demands.
National Seniors spokesman Ian Henschke said "it's good the Prime Minister has recognised the government needs to more to address ageism.
"The first step in taking the lead on any problem solving is recognising there is a problem and in this case it's a growing one," Mr Henschke said.
University of Melbourne associate professor Alysia Blackham there was much more that could be done.
"Are we really thinking strategically about our ageing workforce? I think we've got a long way to go," Assoc Prof Blackham said.
A good place to start was to talk to older people about how they were going and to find out what "accommodations" they may need, she said. It was critical to ensure that work remained rewarding for people as they aged.
Sydney plumber Darren Clancy, 46, who owns his own plumbing business Pipe Perfection said it's "outrageous" that there is only one person over the retirement age in the prime minister's department.
"It's definitely not ideal that they're trying to get everyone out there to do something that they're not following," he told The Daily Telegraph.
"They need to look at changing that, it's completely rich."
"We've all got to keep working, I think it's outrageous really."
Mr Clancy, who has been a plumber for over thirty years, says the physically exhausting job does get harder with age and definitely takes a toll on the body over time.
"I've been lucky enough not to have been seriously injured during my career, but I know plenty of people who have," he said.
"Most tradies once they hit 50 are riddled with past injuries, their bodies just don't hold up as much."
"That's why those older tradies are going into more managerial roles and training roles."
Mr Clancy said he is lucky to have positioned himself in a way that he can continue working with less strain on his body, but he is worried about retirement.
"Well, yes I am worried because you know my body is not as good as what it was, I'm fortunate enough that I have built a business where I don't necessarily need to be on the tools and a lot of that has come because I know the day will come when I won't be able to," he said.
"There are a lot of people who aren't in that position though, a lot, 80 per cent of tradies out there, most definitely it would be especially hard for them."
"In larger businesses older people can be great assets if they're not on the tools.
"It's not always that people don't want to employ an older person but as a business owner, putting on someone older might not as capable as a younger bloke."
"It is starting to get physically hard for me now, especially getting up and getting going, the body creeks a bit, 100 per cent it is getting hard."
"I would see myself in my early 50s before I'm completely off the tools because I know that the body can't handle it."