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Mature Labour Force Participation Workshop in Canberra

The Honorable Dr Kay Patterson AO, Age Discrimination Commissioner, Professor Sharon Parker (UWA, CEPAR); and Professor John Piggott (UNSW, CEPAR)

This week the Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research (CEPAR) hosted an event in Canberra to discuss the challenges associated with the effective use of a mature labour force.

The Australian Treasury has estimated that a five percentage point increase in mature labour force participation would generate by 2050, an additional 2.4% GDP per capita. CEPAR estimates the mature working age population in Australia will rise from 3.5 million today to 5.6 million in 2050.

Thus far, analysis of how to increase mature labour force participation has largely focused on the supply side of the market. This workshop, attended by commonwealth and state government officials, as well as private sector practitioners and the academic community, took a broader view.

The workshop was opened by the Honorable Dr Kay Patterson AO, Age Discrimination Commissioner, Australian Human Rights Commission. Kay gave a fabulous introduction, and reminded academics about the importance of using research to shape practice and policy, in essence, to make a difference.

Two CEPAR researchers, Jeromey Temple from the University of Melbourne, and Rafal Chomik from the UNSW, provided intriguing data showing breakdowns of population, ageing, and participation by region, and offered some projections into the future.

Next Kaarin Anstey from ANU talked about the cognitive health of individuals as they mature, providing fascinating insights into how cognition can change -for better and worse - over the lifespan.

Marian Baird from the University of Sydney presented statistics showing the very different patterns of work and care for mature men compared to women. Marian argued that flexible work arrangements are vital for many mature workers who have aged care responsibilities.

Sharon Parker then presented examples of research and practice focusing on attracting and retaining mature workers, as well as ensuring these workers stay healthy and productive. Sharon invited organisations to participate in our CEPAR research program to enhance our knowledge as to what sorts of interventions work, for whom, and when.

Watch Professor Sharon Parker talk about aging in the workplace from an organisational perspective, here.

The final session was an excellent panel discussion led by Benedikte Jensen, Group Manager Labour Market Strategy, Employment, Department of Employment; Ian Yates, CEO, COTA; and Michael Gadiel, NSW Treasury.

All in all, it was a very successful event with lots of knowledge-sharing and discussion about better engaging mature talent.

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