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 Industry and Skills.
The objective is to conduct a longitudinal study over 4 years on factors that affect 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.
It should be noted that many of the observations and comments in this report are repetitious of previous surveys because the responses are the same and highlight issues that still need to be resolved.
This is the 4th of 4 surveys and was emailed in April 2018 to 2,430 people registered with DOME who were unemployed or working less than 20 hours/week and were seeking to increase their working hours. 305 people or 13% of people contacted responded to the survey. The participants resided in the Adelaide Metropolitan area, the Adelaide Hills and Fleurieu regions.
As with previous years, this survey attracted a newer set of respondents with 55% stating they did not complete the 2017 survey.
The percentage of respondents in the various age groupings generally match the total of people registered with DOME at the time of the survey. As with last year, there is lower interest in this survey in the 40-50 age group with 13% responding this year, compared to 23% of total DOME registrants.
The 50-60 age group represents 50% the DOME registrations but only 39% of responses. The 60+ demographic had the most responses, representing 47% of responses but only 33% of those registered with DOME.
The number of males to females who responded was similar to the 2017 survey, 57% of respondents were male highlights a recent trend toward more males seeking employment.
74% of respondents were fully unemployed and 26% were working part time or less than 20 hours/week, which is similar to 2017.
As with previous years, immediate financial commitments were cited by 49% of respondents as the main reason for seeking employment.
Reflecting a major issue for mature age unemployed, 64% of respondents were unemployed for over 1 year, up from 54% in 2017 and 50% four years ago. The number of respondents who had been unemployed for over 2 years increased from 29% in 2015 to 40% in 2018.
Similar to previous years, 79% of all respondents wanted more than 20 hours/week employment. However, over the 4 years there has been a shift in preference from 30-39 hours (35% in 2015 down to 29% in 2018) to 20-29 hours/week (29% in 2015 up to 37% in 2018).
In 2018, 50% of the respondents felt they needed assistance to get training to learn new skills. 25% wanted career advice. 38% felt the needed help with resumes or interview skills.
Of those that had only achieved high school education, 26% were unemployed, compared to only 16% who were employed, confirming the understanding that a vocational qualification or higher is needed for a greater success in gaining employment.
Tertiary qualifications may not necessarily translate into better employment success when comparing those unemployed against those that are part time employees. Of the unemployed surveyed, 45% held a tertiary qualification and only 28% had a trade or vocational qualification. Of those surveyed that had part time employment, 45% had a trade or vocational qualification and 36% had a tertiary qualification.
The 2018 survey had similar responses to previous surveys in jobseeker perceptions and experiences with their job search. When asked about the factors that might have affected their applications for jobs the main issues were:
- 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.
- They had been perceived as over qualified.
- The current job market as too competitive.
As with previous surveys, 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 negatively affect job applications.
Responses from both the currently employed and unemployed were very similar regarding these job search issues. Even those that had work felt that there had been age discrimination in the process of finding work.
Approximately 68% of the respondents considered their resume writing, job application and online skills as Good to Very Good. Over the years there hasn’t been much change in these numbers, which indicates that around 30% still see a need for support in these areas.
Around 93% of respondents had a personal computer and used it for job applications, and other online activities such as paying bills. Over the past 3 surveys the use of newspapers for job search, has reduced from 61% in 2015 to 50% in 2016 to 42% in 2017 and to 34% in 2018, reflecting greater use of technology by mature age jobseekers. About 70% felt they understood the current job market, down from 73% in 2016. Despite the difficulties in finding work, both employed and unemployed were more confident that they had existing skills that were in demand in the current employment market. 92% were willing to learn new skills to gain employment. In use of technology, the yes responses were marginally higher for the employed group, indicating slightly higher usage and a more positive attitude and understanding of the job market.
Conclusions and Recommendations
Conclusion 1 – Early Intervention
This survey and other statistical evidence indicate that early intervention with this demographic is still key to preventing the issue of long term unemployment for the mature aged. This report and other analysis indicate that the average time spent unemployed by the mature aged 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. Comments received in this survey indicated that the longer people are out of the workforce the harder it is to break back in.
Recommendation: Programs need to allow for support from as early as 3 months of unemployment for mature age.
Conclusion 2 – Funded Training Support
50% of respondents to Question 7 said they need further training. This confirms that there is a need for funded training to obtain new or upgraded skills to gain employment. This sentiment was repeated in Question 9 where 42% agreed or strongly agreed that they needed more specialised skills development to fit the job requirements. Many commented on the desire to do training but didn’t have the means to pay for it.
Recommendation: Further funding be made available for unemployed mature age to access training in areas likely to gain employment. This should include generic qualifications such as Business Administration where employment can be attained across a range of occupations and industries.
Conclusion 3 – Career Advise
In previous years there has been a strong response regarding the need for career advice, with 30% of respondents wanting advice on what careers they should pursue, or what occupations have the best employment opportunities. This years response was lower at 25%, but still a high response rate.
Recommendation: Continued and increased funding for career advice services for the mature age unemployed.
Conclusion 4 – Addressing Age Discrimination
Nothing has changed from the 2015 survey, so I have repeated the same comments on age discrimination.
Whether it is real or perceived, age discrimination is still considered the major obstacle to gaining employment for the mature unemployed.
Recommendation: Programs to create greater awareness of the value of the older worker are continued and developed.
Conclusion 5 – Recruiter Industry Knowledge
There was a perceived improvement in this area with a reduction in the people seeing this as an issue, however, 49% is still a high number and needs more attention.
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 skills requirements and be able to relate this to the experience and skills of the older worker.
Conclusion 6 – Job Seeker Communication
In the 2018 survey comments regarding lack of communication from DOME were much fewer than previous surveys indicating an improvement in this area.
Recommendation: DOME to continue this program of member contact in addition to the job referral and case management programs already in place.
Conclusion 7 – Job Seeker Expectations
Negative comments around the availability of jobs whilst sometimes directed at DOME have been more directed at the general state of the SA economy and the increased competition for jobs. DOME commenced a program in 2015 and 2016 to encourage more employers to list their vacancies, which has seen the number of vacancies increase from 433 in 2014-15 to 490 in 2015-16 and to 530 in 2016-17. In 2017-18 the number of jobs secured was 480 which we believe to be more a reflection of the general employment market in what has been a difficult year for South Australia. This is the first year where we have seen comments about having to move interstate to find work.
Recommendation: Continue the regular communication with the employers and promotion of the www.discoverdome.org.au website, to encourage more vacancies