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Retiring the concept of retirement: the growing mature-aged workforce

Is the concept of retirement being retired?

According to official Australian Bureau of Statistics data, this seems to be the case - the number of women working between the ages of 65 and 74 has more than doubled to 13 per cent in the past decade, and the number of men working in the same age category has risen from 15 per cent to 24 per cent.

A combination of factors are responsible, including longer, healthier lives, proportionally more knowledge-based rather than physical work and greater acceptance of workplace flexibility.

The Global Financial Crisis and the effect on retirement incomes is also a factor, as is a desire on the part of enlightened managers to retain older workers to transmit corporate memory to younger colleagues.

The official retirement age of 65 used to be concomitant with life expectancy.  Now, a more educated baby-boomer generation is likely to live closer to 80 and wants to obtain more value and meaning out of life.  This is often achieved via work, whether it be full or part-time.

The first tranche of baby boomers began to turn 65 in 2011, and there has been a great fear of mass retirements from this demographic bulge, with resulting widespread skills shortages.  Without a rise in workforce participation rates, it has been predicted that there will be a workforce shortage of 2 million nationwide.

While not a panacea, hiring or retaining a mature-aged worker while Generations X and Y learn the ropes might be crucial to avoiding major skills gaps in your business.

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