With New Zealand’s population of over 65s set to surpass one million by 2050, Seniors@work founder Ian Fraser says northern employers need to recognise aged workers as an answer to the country’s growing skills shortage.
Seniors@work is a new online platform that connects employers who need to fill part-time or project-based work with reliable and experienced employees from the 60-plus community.
Ian says that north Auckland is a prime location for the service, with a significant population in the aged demographic and a large base of retail and manufacturing employers.
“I am willing to forego the listing fee for northern employers, instead working on a success fee basis.
That way, they can give us a go and will only pay if they fill the position.”
The service has filled jobs in sectors from customer service and retail, to trade-based work such as plastering, electrical work and truck driving.
Ian says since he started the platform six weeks ago, the feedback from both employers and workers has been encouraging.
“I have 450 staff registered for jobs, and employers who have listed with us have had a 90 per cent success rate filling roles.”
Ian decided to start the new service after finding himself unexpectedly out of work days before his 60th birthday.
“I applied for 75 positions over three years and in that time, I picked up only one contract and only got one other interview.”
This is despite having worked as managing director or food and beverage director on major hospitality projects, including the Lions rugby tour, Sydney Olympics and Melbourne Commonwealth Games.
Ian says no company will explicitly say they have a policy of not hiring seniors, but many over-60 jobseekers have had similar experiences.
“But, the positive side is that once they get through the door, they are made to feel welcome and find they are able to make a valuable contribution.”
He adds that a big advantage of senior workers is that they have typically built up a large range of skills from 30 to 40 years of work experience.
“We prepare senior applicants with a work readiness pack, and they have to list 12 to 15 transferable skills to help us match them up with jobs.”
Ian says workers of his era also have a culture of work ethic and, as opposed to younger workers and remain loyal to employers for longer.
“A 60-year-old might have 10 to 15 good years of work to offer an employer. You don’t get a lot of people who will work 10 years for a company now.”
Seniors@work has set a goal of providing 1000 job opportunities in the next 12 months, and says it will provide coaching and advice to seniors keen to find work.
It is also considering opening the service to those aged over 50, due to demand.