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Changing Attitudes to Older Workers

Hon Ruth Dyson

Minister for Social Development & Employment

3 September 2008 Media Statement

Changing Attitudes to Older Workers

"The age of the New Zealand workforce is changing and employers need to take this fact into consideration" said Ruth Dyson Minister for Social Development and Employment.

Nearly a quarter of New Zealand’s workforce is aged between 50 and 64. The number of workers over 65 years is expected to increase from 65,000 in 2006 to 105,000 in 2011.

“Employers are doing good things to increase opportunities for older workers, but more could be done, said Ms Dyson.

"Today, a set of new best practice guidelines to help employers look at innovative ways of retaining and recruiting mature employees is being released. This will encourage employers to tap into the talent of older workers by better understanding their unique requirements," said Ms Dyson.

“It provides information on recruiting and retaining older workers, work design, job structure, effective supervision, managing performance, training and development, and motivation and rewards.

“The guidelines are part of The Tapping into the Talent of Older Workers project which builds on recent important steps, in particular the legislation to overcome age discrimination which has been important in shifting employer attitudes.

"Recent research by Victoria University's Institute of Policy Studies has highlighted changing employers' attitudes towards older workers. Many employers recognise that older workers are loyal, reliable, committed and have more experience. However, some employers also believed inaccurate stereotypes such as thinking that older employees are unable to adapt to new technologies. We need to do more to challenge these misconceptions and combat age discrimination.

"The State Services Commission is exploring employment trends and issues for older workers in the Public Service and is committed to improving employment outcomes for them. The publication of these guidelines will help employers understand the value of older workers and help plan for an ageing population.

“A cross-agency Population Ageing Work Programme, being co-led by the Ministry of Social Development and the Treasury, is exploring labour and employment issues arising from an ageing workforce along with a range of related economic and social issues,” said Ms Dyson.

The guide, Valuing Experience: a practical guide to recruiting and retaining older workers, is available on


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