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Thursday, 15 July 2010 22:00

'Ageism' alive and well in Aus: ACS


The Australian Computer Society wants an end to 'ageism' in the workplace and wants a better deal for older technology workers and has called on the Federal Government to work with the Human Rights Commission to help change the attitudes to age among local employers.

Pointing to the poor workforce participation rates among mature technology workers, ACS chief executive Bruce Lakin says technology workers aged 45 years and older have fewer opportunities in the workplace - even during times of protected skills shortages in Australia.

"Ageism is a growing reality in Australia - but so is an increasing awareness that workers 45 years and older represent a resource and knowledge base we need to continue to reinvest in," Lakin said.

"While age discrimination can be difficult to prove, its existence, increasing pervasiveness and negative impacts on mature workers and the workplace in general is undeniable," he said.

"Age discrimination creates unacceptable levels of unemployment and underemployment amongst those over 45 years which has economic, as well as social and psychological costs."

The existence of skills shortages in Australia and the under-employment of older technology workers in the economy deserved more significant attention from Government, Lakin said in launching the ACS's Improving Age Diversity in the ICT Workforce report.

ACS president Anthony Wong said the federal government's own Intergenerational Report 2010 had found Australia's mature age participation rates were below that of comparable countries like Canada, New Zealand, the UK and US, and that the ACS' own Employment Surveys had found that those over 45 years made up the bulk of unemployed professionals in the sector.

The ACS has called on governments, industry and professional organisations to work together to better understand market trends in relation to age, to measure the "extent of ageism, impacts on unemployment, the reasons why it is happening, under-employment and hidden unemployment."

It also wants the Human Rights Commissioner to be specifically funded to develop and coordinate a national strategy, which includes the States and Territories.

It has called on Government to develop policy to acknowledge and quantify the cost and other impacts of ageism, as well as identify the economic benefits to firms from employing older workers.

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