The most recent review into Australia’s retirement income system found that almost 20% of Australians between the ages of 55 and 64 were receiving either JobSeeker, the Carer Payment or the Disability Support Pension. It also highlighted that it usually took much longer for older Australians to find a new job than younger job seekers, and people with lower wealth and education levels were more likely to be forced into early retirement. Sadly, one of the reasons for this was a reluctance to hire older workers.[i]

Add disability into the mix and the employment prospects for mature workers become starker – people with disability have lower labour force participation (53.4%) and higher unemployment rates (10.3%) than people without disability (84.1% and 4.6% respectively). While 1 in 5 Australians have a disability, the likelihood of having disability increases with age. Over one quarter of people aged 60-64 years are living with disability. This increases to 40% of people over the age of 65.[ii]

SkillRestart is a new program looking to challenge stereotypes and increase the job prospects for mature workers with disability through digital literacy. This pilot program will launch in Western Sydney in April with the view to expand state-wide and then nationally.

SkillRestart is unique because it is designed to equip participants who have experienced deskilling due to long-term unemployment with the ability and experience needed to competently use commonly used software and remote collaboration tools. This particularly opens up work-from-home job opportunities, such as admin, data entry or call centre roles, which we see as a major growth area.

SkillRestart is a practical, hands-on group training program that runs for 12 weeks. At the same time participants will be working towards a Certificate III in Business (26-week course duration) and work with real businesses throughout the training to come out with practical experience.

Terry Wilson, General Manager of AimBig Employment, says that the focus on digital literacy and confidence is critical.

“It is easy to feel left behind with today’s rapidly changing workplace technology and software, particularly if you never worked in an office environment or have experienced a break in employment. SkillRestart is designed to get people up to date and ready to work in work-from-home roles or office-based environments. Work-from-home roles in particular are a major growth opportunity and likely to suit people with disability.”

“The program addresses a number of challenges. Firstly, many mature age workers are sadly overlooked by employers due to ageism and a perception that they lack the skills to work in a modern workplace,” continues Mr Wilson. “Secondly, while some may have basic IT literacy skills, they may not be at a sufficiently advanced level. Many are referred to existing certifications, however we believe that these courses do not adequately prepare individuals for working in a collaborative, modern workplace using up-to-date digital tools.”

Mr Wilson is excited to see the impact of the program.

“Unfortunately, the odds are unfairly stacked against mature Australians with disability, but employers can get so much from this group if they are willing to give them a chance. They have skills and life experience that they have developed throughout their working life,” says Ms Romero. “The business case for hiring people with disability is very strong – people with disability generally take fewer days off, take less sick leave and stay in jobs longer than other workers. They also ensure that your team best reflects the community in which it operates. They are an untapped resource and can be hugely beneficial.”

Call For Pilot Participants

We are looking for participants in Western Sydney to take part in the free pilot program. Participants must be over 50 years of age and have a disability as recognised by the Department of Disability Employment Services. It would suit people experiencing long-term unemployment that has limited their exposure to modern office software, as well as mature age workers transitioning from blue-collar roles work-from-home or office-based roles for health reasons.

There is also an opportunity for local businesses to get involved in the program to offer practical experience. It would suit businesses that are looking to outsource administration type tasks such as data-entry or call centres. There is no cost to businesses to get this work done by participants.

For more information visit:https://www.aimbigemployment.com.au/skillrestart-jobs/

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