Examine the Implications for the Organization of an Ageing Workforce in Australia

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Over the past decades, Australia, as a whole, has been facing the challenges of aging workforce which present difficulties not only for small business but also large enterprise. Proven by many researchers, niche capabilities and potential development of any organization are largely dependent on its employees.

Geok, Pok and Noi [2002 pp9] claim that “the impact of graying population on country’s social and welfare systems, infrastructures as well as economic growth is substantial, several developed nations have been promoted and adopted social policies to address this specific issue”. Many business cases studies regard mature workers at the age of 45 and over are as ageing workforces who are believed to introduce difficulties in business planning and strategies to retain and sustain the balance in workforce within an organization. At the same time, it cannot be denied that the present of older generation within an organization is absolutely essential in term of providing necessary knowledge and working experiences to the younger generation worker. Therefore, it is important for organizations to examine the implications of Australian ageing workforce in order to achieve its targets and development.

This paper will discuss the demographics of Australian population and workforce. Benefit of mature workforce within an organization will also be addressed. The consequences of ageing workforce will in turn be examined by in term of Human Resource management as well as cost and productivity level of the company. Finally, this study attempts to indicate certain management measures to maximize the productivity of ageing workforce.

The demographics of Australian population and workforce

Firstly, it is essential to examine the Australian population as ageing within population will most likely lead to the ageing in the workforce. It can be indentified that the current ageing population within Australia is primarily due to the rapid decreasing in the birth ratio. The fundamental reason behind such decreasing ratio is due the post World War II “baby boomer” generations that is entering to the age of retirement in the next ten years. In the mean time, birth rate is considerably lower within Australia. The proportion of people aged 65 years and over in Australia has witnessed an increase of 12.9% between June 2004 and June 2009 [Australia Bureau of Statistics 2009 cat. no. 3235.0]. In addition, there is an increase in the average life expectancy as a result of the improvements in health and advances in medical service. This emphasizes that there is currently a larger number of older people than ever before and according to Productivity Commission 2005, this trend will continue for several decades.

Furthermore, the current generations tend to marry in a later age and have fewer children than previous generation. According to Australia Bureau of Statistics [cat. no. 3306.0.55.001], the median age of males getting married in 2007 was at the age of 31.6 and that of females was 29.3. Both males and females median age at marriage has been increasing gradually over the past 20 years. Moreover, in recent decades, there has been tendency for women to delay childbearing until forties, not to mentioned some remained childless [Australia Institute of Health and Welfare cat. no. PER 50]. These have resulted in a rather low supply of young employees while older employees are retiring and leaving the workforce.

Figure 1: Average age of full time workers and civilian population ages 15-64 years Source: Parliamentary Library Over the past two decades, workforce has been ageing faster than the general population. The chart indicates that the average age of the civilian population in 2004 is 2.2 years greater than it was in 1994, rising from 36.6 to 38.8 years. On the other hand, an increase in the average of all full-time workers of 3.5 years, from 35.9 to 39.4 can be observed in figure 1. The workforce ageing faster than...
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