Mature age women

Mature age women have a considerably lower rate of workforce participation compared to mature age men (58.8 per cent and 71.9 per cent respectively).

 

workforce participation rates for mature age women compared with all women
Source: ABS, Labour Force, Detailed - Electronic Delivery, Feb 2017, cat. no. 6291.0.55.001, 12 month average of original data, persons aged 55-64 years.

The workforce participation rates for mature age women (55+) are 58.8%, compared with all women at 59.2%, and mature age men 55-64 at 71.9%.

With the ageing of the Australian population, it is now more important than ever to use the skills and experience of older workers and encourage them to remain in the workforce.

Some of the barriers to employment that older Australians face identified in the Australian Human Rights Commission’s Willing to Work inquiry include age discrimination, difficulties accessing training and difficulties arranging flexible work opportunities.

The inquiry also heard that older women are more likely than older men to be perceived as having outdated skills and as being too slow to learn new skills. Additionally, although mature age people have a lower unemployment rate than younger people, they tend to have greater difficulty finding subsequent employment when they do become unemployed.

The Government continues to ensure its mainstream employment services feature a range of interventions, activities and complementary programs to help mature age job seekers, including women.

Where are we?

The Government is committed to giving older women the choice to remain in, or re-enter, the workforce.

Our Restart wage subsidy program provides eligible employers with a subsidy of up to $10,000 over six months if they hire an eligible income support or pension recipient, 50 years of age or older who has been unemployed and on income support for six months. Since July 2014, over 5,000 women have been placed into a job with the help of a Restart wage subsidy.

The pre-employment partnership with UnitingCare Australia involved UnitingCare training, mentoring and employing women to provide them with real jobs and possible future career pathways within the community and aged care services of the UnitingCare network. Participants undertook training to build their knowledge and work-readiness skills. 35 women participated in three pilot projects in Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland. The Government has now committed $10 million for further partnerships with a range of employers and industries nationally as part of the Launch into Work program.

Key Actions 2017-18

  • Implement a new $98 million, Career Transition Assistance Program that will deliver a short, intensive course for mature age people looking for work to identify and prepare for new career paths and opportunities.
  • Expand the National Work Experience Programme, which will offer older Australians more opportunities to upskill, as well as establish the Pathway to Work pilots, a series of industry-based pilots  in selected growth industries and/or large infrastructure projects.
  • Continue to implement and promote the Restart wage subsidy program, which provides eligible employers with a subsidy of up to $10,000 (GST inclusive) over six months if they hire a job seeker 50 years of age or older who has been in receipt of an income support payment or pension for six months.
  • Fund the new Launch into Work program, pre-employment partnerships that provide training, mentoring and work experience to assist job seekers to become work ready. Projects are flexible and will be designed to meet the specific needs of mature age women.
  • Commission qualitative research to identify the barriers facing women aged 45–64 years who are not in the labour force and not on income support, with the aim of identifying approaches that would encourage them into work.
  • Consider the recommendations of the Willing to Work report, launched by the Attorney-General in May 2016, which revealed pervasive workplace discrimination against mature age people, including women. The report contains 56 recommendations, including policy and legislative reforms, to change attitudes and erode barriers that prevent these Australians from fully participating in society.
  1. AHRC (2016) Willing to Work, National Inquiry into Employment Discrimination Against Older Australians and Australians with Disability http://www.humanrights.gov.au/sites/default/files/document/publication/WTW_2016_Full_Report_AHRC_ac.pdf [accessed 18 April 2017]
  2. AHRC (2016) Willing to Work, National Inquiry into Employment Discrimination Against Older Australians and Australians with Disability http://www.humanrights.gov.au/sites/default/files/document/publication/WTW_2016_Full_Report_AHRC_ac.pdf [accessed 18 April 2017]
  3. AHRC (2016) Willing to Work, National Inquiry into Employment Discrimination Against Older Australians and Australians with Disability http://www.humanrights.gov.au/sites/default/files/document/publication/WTW_2016_Full_Report_AHRC_ac.pdf [accessed 18 April 2017]