Recently we surveyed some of our readers to better understand the reasons why people retire. Many reasons were expected such as when they could afford to retire, health concerns,or job loss.  What we didn’t expect was the number of people that mentioned ageism, or age discrimination, as a reason.

We thought we would dig into this a bit further and found some recent studies on the topic of age discrimination.

A 2017 study by the University of South Australia found:

  • a third of Australians believe they have experienced age-related discrimination while employed or job-seeking
  • many people reported negative assumptions about older workers’ skills, learning abilities and cognition
  • others felt under valued and reported limited or no opportunities for promotion or training and difficulty securing work due to their age.

This study was consistent with an earlier studies by the Human Rights Commission which indicated 27% of Australians over age 50 had experienced some form of age discrimination over the previous 2 years.  Suggestions from employers that people were “over qualified” was often seen as code for being too old.  Some researchers also felt that younger managers might feel intimidated by older workers or have concerns about their ability to take instruction.

One of the most recent studies on this topic, Employing and Retaining Older Workers, was released in April this year by the Australian HR Institute and the Australian Human Rights Commission.  This study highlighted that:

  • People plan to work longer.  The number of people expecting to retire between age 66 and 70 increased from 33% in 2014 to nearly 40% in 2021 and the number expecting to retire between 71-75 increased from 10.6% to 17.4%.
  • The number of HR people that see someone aged between age 51 and 55 as an “older” worker has increased from 12.5% to almost 17%.
  • Nearly 60% of HR professionals believe older workers have had a difficult time getting or retaining employment during Covid19.

With more older workers wanting to remain in the workforce longer, increasing life expectancies and the number of people over 65 expected to double by 2055, it is likely that age discrimination will be an obstacles many older Australians face.

So have you faced age discrimination in the workplace, either now or in the past.  Or perhaps you are seeing it in other areas of your life.  We would love to hear your thoughts and comments which you can make below.

PS If you are getting ready to retire and want to check your entitlements you can use our age pension calculator which you will find here.