Go get a job: the Intergenerational Report tells baby boomers to get back to work for the good of the nation

Yesterday, the much awaited Intergenerational Report was released and it drew a lot of discussion and criticism. It created a snapshot of the next 40 years in Australia and what the growing ageing population will look like in 2055. But now that we, the Australian over 60s, are in our senior years, what does this report mean for us and why is it important?

In projections covered in the report, in 2055, our population will be 39.7 million and the average live expectancy will be around 95. And we’re already facing ballooning budget deficits and increased pressure on health services, aged care and the environment. The government have taken a good, hard look at how us seniors live and what changes can be made so that our country can continue to survive economically long after we’re gone.

But the news isn’t so good for our own grandchildren – they’ll be worse off than we were. The main issue that Joe Hockey talked about was the fact that so many older people do not work, particularly women. In his announcement of the report findings, he called for older Australians to join a “grey army” to boost work force participation. But are you willing to do that?

The report suggests that we have been living beyond our means for too long – the government spends over $100 million a day more than it collects. Do you agree? Are you living beyond your means?

Though, if we’re being encouraged to get back to work, where are the jobs? Joe Hockey finished off his speech yesterday by saying he had met a man who was 83 years old and worked at Bunnings. But does Joe think that only place we want to work is Bunnings?

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Age and Disability Commissioner Susan Ryan spoke to ABC Newsradio yesterday after the report was released and said the clear fact is that we want to work longer if can get the right work.

Australian seniors in 2015 are living longer lives however other nations are better at getting older workers into jobs. She said, “We need to be reskilling workers with targeted training” and that our nation has a problem with wasting human capital. We have a big problem if employers won’t look at someone over 50 so in this, there’s a retraining opportunity, according to Ms Ryan. She suggested a skills checkpoint where if you’re 50, you can look at your job and think about whether you will stay for another 10 years. If not, you need to have resources that can help you find out what is possible for you, where to find jobs and training to do something you will enjoy for years to come. So, how can reskilling over 50s work if our government wants to stop spending money? Ms Ryan said “If people continue in work, they’re not drawing on resources. It’s well known that people who are employed are healthier, mentally and physically, which in turn pulls down health costs”.

“There is that deep seated idea that once you’re over 50, you’re over the hill and we don’t want to invest you or hire you or anything like that, she said. “We know that most people who are 50 now are going to live into their 90s and maybe to 100. What happens if you leave the workforce in your 50s and you die at 95? I mean it’s a terrible thought that you would be all those years without earned income and a lot of those years would be on the public purse. So we have to change that”. Do you agree?

We asked you if you think employers are open minded enough today and the overwhelming response is that they are not. Kim Hale said, “There are not enough jobs and, of course, if older people apply they are quickly culled in favour of younger (cheaper!) applicants”, and Jenny Goldberg said, “I heard over qualified so many times – what does that mean really? Oh that’s right, you are 60 and too old!”. Wendy France was forced to retire early: “I had been doing a lot of agency work, then the jobs ran out. The agency was giving the work to the younger ones – those with less experience. The agency said it wasn’t me, but the job situation at the time. Of course they said that. I retired because I couldn’t find work! Bosses need to be intelligent enough to value older workers!”. 

So what do you think? Should we get back to work for the good of our grandchildren? Should we be to blame? Is there enough work for over 60s?