Mature Workers: 2. Myths and facts around older workers
2. Myths and facts around older
Negative stereotypes and assumptions of a ‘use by date’ are
significant barriers that older Australians face when they look for meaningful
With Australia’s workforce ageing at a rapid rate and some industries
facing skills shortages, buying into these stereotypes will increasingly come at
a heavy cost to employers.
That’s why it’s so important to separate the myths from the
- Myth 1: Mature age workers will cost the business more for their
- Myth 2: Mature age workers may be prone to health problems
- Myth 3: There is no long term benefit to training and developing mature
- Myth 4: Younger workers are better performers than mature age workers
- Myth 5: Mature age workers won’t be able to adapt to changes and
MYTH 1: Mature age workers will cost the business more for their
FACT: Mature age employees can save costs to employers through
increased rates of retention.
- Workers aged over 55 are five times less likely to change jobs
compared with workers aged 20-24, reducing ongoing recruitment and training
- Mature workers deliver an average net benefit of $1,956 per year to their
employer compared to the rest of the workforce - a result of increased
retention, lower rates of absenteeism, decreased costs of recruitment and
greater investment returns on
FACT: Retention of mature age workers can help maintain
corporate memory and save employers the cost of ‘re-inventing the
FACT: There is a strategic business advantage of having employees who
reflect the diversity of the customer base as the Australian population
MYTH 2: Mature age workers may be prone to health problems.
FACT: Australians are living longer and are healthier.
- ABS reports show that the current life expectancy is 78 years for men and 83
years for women – a two and three year increase respectively since
- A 2005 ABS survey found the proportion of Australians aged 55-64 reporting
their health as ‘good’, ‘very good’ or
‘excellent’ was 75.5% – an increase of four per cent since
FACT: Mature age workers are less likely to take sick leave
and experience work related injuries.
- A 2006 ABS survey found that mature workers were the least likely group to
take days off due to their own illness or as a carer. In the two week period
prior to the survey nearly half the number of mature workers had days off
compared to workers aged 25-34.
- ABS data indicates that mature age workers are less likely to experience
work-related injuries compared to younger
MYTH 3: There is no long term benefit to training and developing mature
FACT: Australia’s ageing population means business will need to
invest in mature age employees.
- Based on current trends the working age population will grow by just 125,000
for the entire decade from 2020 to 2029 – less than a tenth of
- Research of OECD countries shows that those countries that provide a higher
level of training to older workers have workers leaving the labour market at an
MYTH 4: Younger workers are better performers than mature age
FACT: Experience is a better indicator of productivity than
- A study of OECD nations concluded that verbal skills, communication and
intelligence remain unchanged as a person
MYTH 5: Mature age workers won’t be able to adapt to changes and
FACT: Older people are the fastest growing users of
- ABS data shows that Australians aged 55-64 are the fastest growing users of
FACT: Older people can be trained to use new
- International studies indicate that appropriate training provided in a
supportive environment can greatly assist older workers to learn new technology
- A survey of employers showed they were more likely to recruit someone with
direct experience in the industry but with limited computing skills compared to
a person who is good with computers but has no industry
 Australian Bureau of Statistics
(2006) Labour Mobility Survey, Cat. No.
 Business, Work and
Ageing (2000) Profiting from Maturity: The Social and Economic Costs of Mature
Government, Department of Health and Aged Care (2001) Population Ageing in
the Australian Economy, Access
 Australian Bureau of
Statistics, (2006) Measures of Australia's Progress, Cat. No.
 Australian Bureau of
Statistics (2006) National Health Survey: Summary of Results, 2004-05 Cat. No. 4364.0.
Australian Bureau of
Statistics (2006) Work-Related Injuries, Australia, Cat. No.
 Organisation for
Economic Cooperation and Development (2006) Live Longer Work Longer, OECD
accessed 27 August 2007.
 Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (2006) Live Longer Work
Longer, OECD Publishing, http://126.96.36.199/oecd/pdfs/browseit/8105111E.PDF,
accessed 27 August 2007.
 Australian Bureau of Statistics (2005) Year Book Australia, Cat. No.
 Research and Policy
Committee of Committee for Economic Development (1999) New Opportunities for
M., Flick, M., & Rice, J. (2001) The recruitment of older Australian
workers – A survey of employers in high growth industry, Social Policy
Research Centre, University of NSW.