A recent report in the newspaper mentioned, in tones of great astonishment, that a particular person was still in paid employment and they were in their 60s – the inference being, the person was too old to be working and how come they weren’t retired. I find it difficult to understand how an employee in their 60s is considered unusual in this day and age, given people live longer today than decades ago. I find it difficult to understand the spoken or unspoken inference that being in a certain age bracket means people are past it, lacking skills or abilities or debilitated by ill health, ailments or fragility. The ‘mature’ work force is deemed to be workers 45+ years and older and that’s a big band of people who may face employment barriers such as: ageism, responsibilities for family members, disability or ill health. Interestingly enough, these employment barriers are also faced by much younger workers, such as school leavers and parents in their early 20s or 30s.
New Zealand has an ‘aging’ workforce but that doesn’t mean it is a debilitated one. When this aging workforce leaves the workplace, many organisations will face a serious skills and experience shortage. Ageism against younger workers and mature workers needs to be eliminated because they are all needed now and for the future.