Older Australians are facing ageism, harsh pension rules and a scarcity of age-appropriate job opportunities when trying to re-enter the workforce, a new report found.

Australian Seniors, an Australian advocacy organisation, surveyed 3,067 Australians aged 50 and over on their attitudes to working after retirement. Of those surveyed, more than 3,000 were retired, transitioning to retirement or moving in and out of retirement. The report, Older Australians’ Perspectives on Working After Retirement, found that while 63 percent of retirees surveyed do not want to work, just under 20 percent do.


The report identified 14 different kinds of barriers they are facing in obtaining work. Unfair ageist attitudes to older workers topped the list of barriers, with 36 percent of participants directly mentioning it and others alluding to it. Other barriers cited include pension rules and similar (21 percent), the impacts of ageing on a person’s work capacity (16 percent), a lack of appropriate opportunities (14 percent), out-of-date skills and qualifications (10 percent) and issues related to digital skills and engagement (10 percent).
Respondents also noted that workplace culture, time commitments like caring, a lack of resilience, age- related regulations pertaining to things like insurance and workers compensation, uncertainties related to job applications, other forms of discrimination, such as ableism, COVID risks and requirements, and unwillingness to take work from younger people also prevented them from re-entering the workforce.
“Older Australians recognise that the impacts of ageing can sometimes reduce people’s capacity to work, especially in industries requiring physical labour and jobs with demanding conditions, such as full- time hours,” the report stated. It recommended supporting employers to redesign jobs, so they are less physically taxing and more flexible in hours and conditions, to capitalise on the wealth of skills and experience older workers can contribute.

 Skills and Qualifications

Out-of-date skills and qualifications can be a major barrier to post-retirement work, as can low confidence with digital technologies and modern job application norms, it said. Providing retirees with retraining opportunities in these areas would reduce these barriers, especially if the retraining is directly connected to a job, so they are not wasting their time.