Nov 29, 2013

‘No one wants to know you’: unemployment catch-22 for older Aussies

The Productivity Commission has recommended increasing the pension age to 70 to keep Australians working longer. But with employers loath to hire anyone over 50, is this any kind of solution?


As Australia’s population ages, there’s increasing pressure on politicians to encourage people to work longer. The Productivity Commission has recommended increasing the pension age to 70 from the current age of 65. But if their pension benefits were delayed, would older Australians be able to keep working?

Crikey put out the call, and the response from readers has been unanimous: it is very difficult to find work when you are over the age of 50. And the longer you are without a job, the harder it is to find one. One reader said:

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14 thoughts on “‘No one wants to know you’: unemployment catch-22 for older Aussies

  1. Blair Rideout

    Finally the voice of reason prevails.

  2. klewso

    Let’s be practical – “Less mouths to look after the more the government saves”?

    And surely these “employment agencies” are there primarily to make money from the government for “paper-work generated”- finding those scarce jobs for “the age impaired” are more a happy accident?

  3. Shaniq'ua Shardonn'ay

    The employment agencies (and I include the ‘charities’ here) are one of the biggest scams I have ever encountered, beyond the very basic ‘how to print out a resume’ they are pretty useless. Mind you having been out of work in my early 30s due to illness I did have to accept a job for which I was over-qualified and underpaid, unfortunately that’s the way it is. I would guess that this is the same story for those who left their job to have families as well as older people. I have to say also that having worked with those near retirement age (especially middle management men) they can be a pain in the proverbial sometimes, especially when it comes to trying to get them to use new technology.

  4. Yclept

    Age discrimination is rampant. The only thing more annoying is the pretense by executives and, prepubescent, so called HR professionals who rule out anyone based on age regardless of relevant experience.

    At 54 I found it very difficult to get an interview until I changed my photo on LinkedIn and Facebook to a more youthful self at around 35, and doctored my resume to support that apparent age. Suddenly I was called for interviews. No doubt they were then disappointed to see the grey hair and it went no further. Luckily I was in a situation to just retire and not subject myself to more of this insanity or to have to go through the mindless employment agency scam that I has witnessed friends suffer through.
    As the pollies don’t have to suffer this rubbish, no doubt nothing will change and they’ll continue to wonder why they can’t save money when retirees are transferred from pension to newstart.

  5. Bill Parker

    Come on folks, it ain’t that hard. Being a gatekeeper at Bunnings tradie’s entrance is a pretty good gig.

  6. Ramble

    I was out of work when 41 (15 years ago) and was regarded as ‘too old’ by many employers even then (despite BscHons, MBA, project experience, high level computer skills). I cannot imagine it is much better now (should my present mining industry role end), despite the greater general awareness of mature age employees. A big problem shall be the ability to earn a real liveable wage after I turn 60 in a few years.

  7. Keith Thomas

    I don’t know if Bill Parker has his tongue in his cheek or not, but this gives me the opportunity to applaud the many older workers at Bunnings: their energy, cheerfulness, knowledge of the product range and where it is in the store is exceptional. Many are ex-tradies and can give practical advice to a DIY beginner. My local IGA also employs older shelf-stackers who are similarly helpful.

  8. Keith Thomas

    Missing here is a reference to becoming self-employed, including in micro-businesses importing niche-market goods for sale over the internet.

  9. Bill Parker


    Tongue in the cheek. I have always got answers etc with the older Bunnings staff. Choice of two stores one with oldies, one with under 25s. Guess where I go!

  10. Michael Jones

    Take a look at America and think again about what age-group is being discriminated against in the job market. That’s where our economy is headed.

    Older workers re-entering the workforce cannot come at the cost of younger workers not getting to enter it in the first place, or moving up in a way that allows them to stabilize financially.

    They have much more to lose than an older skilled worker who’s struggling to find work. The older worker risks damage to their pride. The younger would-be-worker risks losing the vital first steps in their working life.

    And when it comes to older workers, the real victims are the blue collar should-be-retirees who will be expected to work for years longer despite mounting health issues from a lifetime of labor.

    This entire issue is viewed through the myopic lens of white collar baby boomers who continue to see themselves as the center of the universe.

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