Looking for work is hard at the best of times, but if you’re over 55 it can be tricky even to get your foot in the door.
A new program designed to help workers with more life experience transition back into the workforce aims to level the playing field.
Member for Gladstone, Glenn Butcher said the “Seniors Boost” would operate the same as the highly successful “Youth Boost” program, and offer employers $20,000 to hire a worker aged 55 or older.
Susan Fitton, 55, is currently completing a traineeship in Conservation and Land Management run by the Gladstone Engineering Alliance as part of the Skilling Queenslanders for Work program. She thinks the initiative will make a real difference:
“I wanted to get back into the workforce but I have found it very difficult,” she said. “Without any exaggeration, since May I have sent out 98 applications for work and the first person I got in front of was Carli at GEA when I got the traineeship.
“I can’t help but think it’s because of my age because my resume is certainly good enough to do various jobs.”
“I have a lot to offer an employer and if the retirement age is to rise to seventy, I still have fifteen years of working life ahead. I hope that I will at least be able to get in front of people now, and they will take the time to get to interview me and see that I’ve got something to offer,” Susan said.
“With that $20,000 on offer I think I will get the same chance to get in front of people and that is the main thing.”
Julie Gelder from GEA said the Seniors Boost would redress an imbalance she has been seeing with GEA’s former trainees transitioning into work:
“Through the previous Youth Boost we’ve seen a lot of our younger participants go into work but there was less around for mature aged people, so this initiative will really assist us,” she said.
“What mature aged people do have, are a lot of skills. These sometimes got overlooked because the subsidy was available for younger people.”
Glenn Butcher said extending the ‘boost’ to older workers gave businesses a choice: “They can go for the Youth Boost if they’re looking for someone just starting out, and now the senior boost for the over 55s, or if you hire someone who’s been unemployed for more than 12 months you can get up to $15,000 under the Back to Work program.”
“We know that Gladstone has done it tough but there are green shoots starting to come up everywhere with new businesses opening. If you can get $20,000 for free basically just for hiring someone then why not?”
The program will begin on 1 January and run until the end of the financial year. If you are 55 or over and have been unemployed for more than four weeks, the business that hires you is eligible for the $20,000 subsidy.