Prime Minister Tony Abbott has today launched the federal government's $10,000 incentive for businesses to employer older workers.
Source:
AAP, SBS World News
11 Jul 2014 - 4:32 PM  UPDATED 11 Jul 2014 - 8:32 PM

The government wants older Australians to work for longer.

Today the government launched its $524.8 million Restart program, announced in the federal budget. 

Employers will receive up to $10,000 over two years if they hire someone 50 years or over who has been on social security for at least six months.

"There are lots and lots of people who don't just want to be social contributors but economic contributors as well," Prime Minister Tony Abbott said.

"For too long we've had this idea that once you hit a certain age you're just sliding into retirement," he added. "If we are to be the strong and dynamic economy in the future that we've always been in the past we need to encourage older people to stay in the workforce.

"We need to remember that the best form of welfare is work." 

Employers and recruitment agencies have praised the incentive as good for encouraging bosses to hire mature workers.

‘Ageism rife in workplace’

However, official statistics show ageism in the workplace kicks in as early as 45.

An AAP analysis of Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows people who lose their jobs when aged between 45 and 54 can expect to be out of work for about a year.

And according to 55-year-old John Bain, the older you are, the harder it is to find work.

Retrenched last August with a Master’s in marketing, he spends three hours every day looking at job advertisements.

Mr Bain has applied for over 270 positions, but has only got 15 interviews.

“It gets very frustrating particularly when you know that a lot of these positions I've done comfortably in the past,” he told SBS.

Mr Bain assumes his age is a major factor.

But he's not sure $10,000 is enough of an incentive.

“I think it'll be a step in the right direction but I'm not convinced that the amount they're talking about is going to be that appealing to a company.”

Recruitment firm Randstad's employment analyst Steve Shepherd said ageism was rife in the workplace.

He cited the case of a 47-year-old woman client who was asked during a recent job interview if she still had the passion to work at her age.

"Employers do have perceptions that older people are going to be less energetic and less technology savvy," he said.

"This incentive will help employers, particularly small businesses, to see beyond a person's age.

"I think this culture against older workers will have to change because at the end of the day we have an ageing population."

The Australian Retailers Association executive director Russell Zimmerman said he's expecting retail businesses to take advantage of the incentive, including home improvement giant Masters.

"People in car part areas will make excellent workers in hardware stores," he said.

"We know Masters is in the process of opening stores across Australia so there are opportunities there."

Building products group CSR managing director Rob Sindel said the average age of the company's employees, particularly in the company's factories, was between 45 and 55.

"We have never shied away from hiring people in that age group," he said.

"If there is some long-term unemployed person, who is right for the organisation and the role, then we would apply for the grant but it wouldn't be our primary driver."