Employment for seniors: Reskill program set to be rolled out

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Five sites across the country will trial a new program to help mature-aged Australians learn workplace skills.

The federal government has announced Ballarat in Victoria, Somerset in Queensland, Central West New South Wales, Adelaide and Perth have been chosen for the Career Transitional Assistance Program trial.

Starting in July 2018, jobseekers aged over 50 will be able to do a short, intensive course to help them gain useful workplace skills.

Minister for Employment, Michaelia Cash, told reporters the trial is "all about appropriately targeting policies, because one size-fits-all doesn't necessarily work".

"Mature aged (people) have very different needs, for example, to our youth so this policy is very much focused on those above the age of 50 who need assistance to remain in the labour market," she said.

"Or alternatively, if you've been out of the labour market, to get those skills you need to get back in to the labour market."

Denise Jepsen, organisational psychologist and Associate Professor at Macquarie University, said keeping "up to date" with skills was a real challenge.

"People in their 50s are often raising children, caring for parents and family, so it's hard to keep in touch with everything," she told SBS World News.

"So when they're unfortunately out of work, to get that extra help, if you've been working for a while, how long has it been since you've prepared your CV, or your resume?

"Do you know where the jobs are, do you know what's going on out in the field, who is wanting employees?"

Language barriers

Anna Dimo was a teacher in South Sudan before civil war forced her to flee her country.

She arrived in Australia with limited English language skills, and can recall the daunting prospect of trying to find work.

"The difficulty is when you don't know the language, you can't do anything," she said.

"The language is the key. When you know the language, you know what to do."

Working as a pastoral care worker in Sydney, Ms Dimo now assists migrants of all backgrounds and ages.

She stresses the importance of English language skills, as she helps prepare them for the Australian workforce.

"(For) adults, it's harder to learn English quickly," she said.

"The younger ones are quick to learn but for adults it's very difficult. And when they don't know the language it's hard for them to do the job. But sometimes when people sit with them, they will learn to do basic jobs but it's hard for them to get a job."

The program is expected to be rolled out nationally in 2020.

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