Job ads may specify older workers

Australian prime minister says plan would help fill skills gap as unemployment sits at 6.5 per cent
||Last Updated: 03/10/2004


ustralia’s Prime Minister is pushing a plan that would let employers state they are looking for older workers when advertising job openings.

Prime Minister John Howard said discrimination laws banning employers from specifying age in job advertisements should be dumped if it helps older jobseekers.

“I think we can go too far with this sort of very rigid obsession with discrimination,” Howard said during an interview on a talk radio station, reported in

The Age

. “Those laws were designed to prevent discrimination… but if, in fact, we actually as a society want to encourage older people to stay and the law is standing in the way, well the law should be altered.”

The Australian government has proposed changes that would allow Australians to work past the traditional retirement age by allowing them to take part-time work and top up their wages by dipping into superannuation.

The opposition has criticized the government, and said it should focus on putting policies in place to encourage families to have more children by introducing compulsory maternity leave and tax deductibility for childcare.

But Howard said employers need to change attitudes and think more about hiring older workers. Julie Mills, chief executive of Recruitment and Consulting Services Association, agreed with the prime minister. She told

The Age

that with unemployment hovering around 6.5 per cent, there is a skills and candidate shortage in the 25 to 45 age bracket. But there are workers who are older, and younger, who could help fill that breach.

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