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Program helps ‘discards’

After dedicating twenty or thirty years to the workforce, many mature workers naturally feel insulted when thrown on the scrap heap.

The over forty-fives are the new ‘forgotten generation’ in the workforce and numbers are increasing says Depart-ment of Training and Employment chief executive Ian Hill.

From August 1997 to August 1998, the number of unemployed people aged between forty-five and fifty-four Aust-ralia-wide increased by 156 per cent.

The latest research from Drake Management Consulting shows ‘thirty somethings’ were highly desirable for employment as executives and managers but this figure more than halved for forty-one to fifty year olds.

The same research showed those more than fifty years of age were completely out of the running.

The trend is considered to be a product of various factors including the offering of early retirement packages, downsizing of organisations and an ageist attitude in Western society.

Speaking at the launch of the WA Government’s $3 million Profit from Experience program, Employment and Training Minister Graham Kierath said, among OECD countries, Australia was thought to have one of the lowest workforce participation rates for people over fifty-five.

The program will help more than 4,000 unemployed people over the age of forty-five who are not eligible for government assistance over the next twelve months.

Participants must have been unemployed for between three and twelve months to be eligible.

Access officers will provide intervention counselling and assessment.

Participants can apply for a grant of up to $1,000 for specific skills training, and can attend workshops and access Career Restart information packages.

Mature-age recruitment specialists DOME – Don’t Overlook Mature Experience – will play a key role in the program.

The University of WA’s Department of Organisation and Labour Studies and the Australian Human Resources Institute recently conducted a survey on perceptions and practices of human resource professionals towards employing older workers.

UWA’s Karen Schmidt said while 50 per cent of respondents agreed with the statement ‘I would not consider the age of a person when evaluating applicants for a job’ – this meant the remaining 50 per cent probably disagreed.

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