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The Future of Older Workers in Australia

Female colleagues collaborating in the workplace

The potential mature workforce is growing larger by the year. How to increase the participation of this population subgroup in the workforce, and maximise their productivity and health, were the key themes of a Workshop on Mature Labour Force Participation held in Canberra last week.

Delivering the opening address at the workshop organised by the ARC Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research (CEPAR), the Age Discrimination Commissioner, the Honourable Kay Patterson AO, spoke of the importance of  translating research outcomes into government policy and business practice. This was echoed by representatives of the Commonwealth and State Governments who identified knowledge gaps where research was needed to inform policy development.

Kaarin Anstey, Professor of Psychology at the Australian National University and CEPAR Chief Investigator, talked about changing competencies as workers aged and the need for these to be taken into account in recruitment and job design. For example, crystallised intelligence, or the ability to use learned knowledge and experience, increases with age while fluid intelligence, which includes skills like the ability to solve new problems, declines.