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2015 Survey of DOME Job Seekers

Greg Goudie
Written by Greg Goudie

Executive Summary – Job Seeker Survey 2015

This survey was commissioned as a component in a 4 year Mature Age Employment Project managed by the DOME Association and sponsored by the Department of State Development.
The objective is to conduct a longitudinal study over 4 years on factors that effect the ability of mature age people to find employment. Such as age discrimination, skill levels, perceived and real attitudes and barriers to employment faced by the mature age.

The survey was emailed in March 2015 to 1,795 people registered with DOME who were unemployed or working less than 20 hours/week and were seeking to increase their working hours. 644 people or 36% of people contacted responded to the survey. The participants resided in the Adelaide Metropolitan area, the Adelaide Hills and Fleurieu regions.

The most prominent age group of respondents was in the 50-60 age group with 53%, this highlights a trend over recent years in the average age of people registering with DOME dropping from 60 to 55 years of age. 60% of respondents were male also highlighting a recent trend toward more males seeking employment. 77% of respondents were unemployed and 23% were working part time or less than 20 hours/week.

Immediate financial commitments were cited by 56% of respondents as the main reason for seeking employment.

Reflecting a major issue for mature age unemployed, 50% of respondents were unemployed for over 1 year and 29% for over 2 years. Over 80% of all respondents wanted more than 20 hours/week employment, the most popular preference was 30-39 hours/week.

56% of the respondents felt they needed assistance to get training to learn new skills, 31% wanted career advise. 36% felt the needed help with resumes or interview skills.
The survey indicates that those with a Cert 3 and 4 vocational qualification are more likely to be employed than those with a Diploma level qualification. Reinforcing this point, of those that had a vocation qualification 33% were employed compared to only 27% being unemployed. Of those that had only achieved high school education 35% were unemployed, compared to only 31% who were employed. There was little difference in employment status between those who held a tertiary qualification of Diploma level or higher.

When asked about the factors that might have affected their applications for jobs the main responses were that younger recruitment consultants discriminated against older people, recruiters had a lack of industry knowledge and understanding of the relevance of the applicants skills and experience, most felt they were considered too old by employers, they felt they needed specialised skills development to fit job requirements but also felt they had been perceived as over qualified and most considered the current job market as too competitive.

Issues such as caring responsibilities, language or ethnic differences, gender issues, interaction with the recruiter, mismatch with workplace culture and ill health or disability were not considered to affect job applications.
Responses from both the currently employed and unemployed were very similar in the above areas. Even those that had work felt that there had been age discrimination in the process of finding work.

Around 50% of the employed respondents considered their resume writing, job application and on line skills as Good compared to around 40% of the unemployed respondents. A similar ratio of respondents rated their skill in this area as Poor to Fair, indicating the need for more support in this area.

Around 90% of respondents had a personal computer and used it for job applications, and other online activities such as paying bills. Only 61% used the newspapers for job search. Around 70% felt they understood the current job market and that their skills were still in demand. Even so 92% were willing to learn new skills to gain employment. The yes responses were marginally higher for the employed group, indicating slightly higher use of technology and a more positive attitude and understanding of the job market.

Conclusions and Recommendations – Job Seeker Survey 2015

  • Recommendation 1 – Early Intervention:

Responses from this survey and other statistical evidence indicate that early intervention with this demographic is key to preventing the issue of long term unemployment. This report and other analysis indicate that the average time spent unemployed by the mature age is between 60 and 75 weeks. Support programs should not be structured to wait for 6-12 months before mature age unemployed become eligible for job search assistance.
Recommendation: Programs need to allow for support as early as 3 months of unemployment.

  • Recommendation 2 – Funded Training Support:

It is clear from the response to Question 7 that this group see the need for training to obtain new or upgraded skills to gain employment. This sentiment was repeated in Question 9 where 41% agreed or strongly agreed that they needed more specialised skills development to fit the job requirements and Question 18 where only 66% considered that their existing skills were in demand in the current job market.
Recommendation: that further funding be made available for unemployed mature age to access training in areas likely to gain employment.

  • Recommendation 3 – Career Advise:

There was also a strong response to the need for career advice.
Recommendation: Continued and increased funding for career advice services for the mature age unemployed.

  • Recommendation 4 – Addressing Age Discrimination:

Whether it is real or perceived, age discrimination is still considered the major obstacle to gaining employment for the mature unemployed. It was interesting that responses about gender discrimination indicated this was not an issue, which demonstrates that the higher level of awareness of gender discrimination has created some social change. Apparently, not so the case with age discrimination.
Recommendation: Programs to create greater awareness of the value of the older worker are continued and developed.

  • Recommendation 5 – Recruiter Industry Knowledge:

Nearly half of the respondents considered that there was a lack of industry knowledge by recruiters and the relevance of applicants skills and experience for positions.
Recommendation: Programs such as the Australian Jobs Guide, the Career Choices in SA jobs guide be continued and updated to assist recruiters to stay current with the skills requirements and be able to relate this to the experience and skills of the older worker.

  • Recommendation 6 – Job Seeker Communication:

There were a few comments on lack of communication from DOME.
Recommendation: DOME to commence a new program of member contact in addition to the job referral and case management programs already in place.

  • Recommendation 7 – Job Seeker Expectations:

Confusion over the listing of jobs and job referral process through DOME appears to have created false expectations of the service available and capable of being delivered. Particularly in the area of expecting DOME to have enough jobs to go around and that once registered they can rely solely on DOME to find and refer them to jobs.
Recommendation: Provide regular email updates reminding members of the job application process and the availability of jobs through DOME.

  • Recommendation 8 – Job Seeker Assistance:

Some of the comments referred to the need for support in general terms, along the lines of mentoring and an expectation that DOME will be able to assist everyone. Due to the very high numbers of job seekers registered with DOME, this is difficult to achieve.
Recommendation: DOME develop and pilot a Job Seeker Support Club, where job seekers can gather together and with minimal supervision and guidance discuss their situations and the strategies they could use to improve their opportunities for employment.

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About the author

Greg Goudie

Greg Goudie

Greg Goudie is the Executive Director of DOME and following many years in the automotive parts manufacturing sector, has worked with mature age unemployed for the past 15 years.

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