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Ageism contributes to worsening skills shortage

For Immediate Release
12 August, 2004

Ageism contributes to New Zealand’s worsening skills shortage

The current woes of New Zealand business in finding the professional skills it needs could largely be remedied by better utilising those that make up the country’s largest pool of skilled resource – the over 45 year olds.

Employment specialist, Kevin Chappell of Executive Taskforce Group, says deliberate or otherwise, ageism is alive and kicking in the New Zealand employment markets. He says while for so long it has worked against the ‘older hands’ in business, it is they who may yet prove to be a saviour of business in these times of skills shortages.

“In effect, there is nowhere else to go. There are no ‘30 somethings’ readily available as there has been in recent times, the best have already been secured, immigration is falling off and the latest crop of graduates is emerging high on ideals but with little or no practical experience.”

Chappell says sitting in amongst the 45+ year brigade are some of the country’s keenest strategic and tactical business minds. “Any fear that their skills have been dulled by time or not kept pace with modern practice is a nonsense – many of them are called in by business as specialist consultants or contractors on a regular basis.”

Yet the power of this resource remains hugely under-utilised, says Chappell.

“It seems a perception has grown over the last decade that first sign of a grey hair means an imminent brain hemorrhage and a sudden loss of drive, experience and business skill. If that were truly the case the vast majority of all our current business leaders would have been retired to the proverbial scrape heap a good many years ago.

“The reality is there is no more skilled or experienced group of people in our working population. And I believe their time has come again, to the extent that if business fails to recognise the contribution they can make, then business itself may fail through the lack of proper skill and resource.”


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