In December, Monash University will host an Older Workers and Work Ability Conference, where the Federal Treasurer, The Honorable Wayne Swan MP, will present a keynote speech.
Designed to explore the issues surrounding workforce ageing – and the policy, economic, social and cultural responses required to address them – the conference will bring together leading experts from government, business and education in Australia and around the world.
During the two-day conference, Mr Swan will be joined by The Honorable Kate Ellis MP, Minister for Employment Participation and Child Care, and Ms Susan Ryan AO, Australia’s first Age Discrimination Commissioner.
Conference director Professor Philip Taylor, Director of Research and Graduate Studies at Monash University’s Gippsland campus, has spent more than two decades researching in the field of age and the labour market.
“Workforce ageing is a growing concern in developed and developing economies alike, and the involvement of both the Treasurer and Minister for Employment Participation shows the significance the issue presents to the Australian Government,” Professor Taylor said.
According to Professor Taylor, workforce ageing is a critical issue not just for governments and policymakers, but for major employers across all sectors of industry, and one that needs an immediate response.
“Beyond a much greater number of older workers, our workforce is ageing faster than our general population, especially in vital areas such as health and education,” Professor Taylor said.
“While universities are responding as best they can, this will not be enough by itself to meet Australia’s future workforce needs, and unless we can prolong the working lives of current workers, we face significant risk of not being able to meet future demand and face ongoing, increasing skills shortages.”
Professor Taylor said the University’s conference would consider how this issue could be addressed through measures including the prolongation of working lives, age management, work ability over the life course, skills maintenance and changing perceptions of older workers.
“Often, and particularly in the private sector, there is an incorrect assumption that older workers are somehow less productive than their younger peers, but this couldn’t be further from the truth,” Professor Taylor said.
“Most research shows that productivity does not decline with age, and that older workers bring a degree of experience that actually adds to overall productivity levels.”
Monash University’s Older Workers & Work Ability Conference will be held at the Rendezvous Hotel in Melbourne from 12 to 13 December 2011.
For more information, visit the Older Workers & Work Ability Conference website.