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It’s hard finding work as an older person. Is it my fault?

The short answer is - no. 

New Zealand has one of the highest rates of older workers in the OECD – almost half of all 65 – 69-year-olds are employed. Yet many older workers find it difficult finding paid employment as they get older – and one reason behind that is ageism. Contrary to evidence, older workers are seen as less productive, more resistant to change (particularly when it comes to picking up new processes or technology), and more likely to be absent due to sickness.

These stereotypes have been debunked through various research over the years – yet the negative stereotypes live on. In fact, older workers have been found to be more reliable and better performing than their younger counterparts. Yet, ageism seems so ingrained in our society that many older workers buy into these ageist beliefs – thereby reinforcing the ageism cycle.

It’s crucial to understand is that you have skills and knowledge that are valuable to an employer; believing in yourself is the first hurdle to climb to break through ageism. If you have been out of employment for a few years, or you’re looking for a role change, looking for opportunities to upskill or retrain could be a good way to give you more confidence going into job hunting. 

Employers need to be more proactive about not just recruiting older workers but creating workplaces that encourage older workers to stay. The New Zealand Government has launched its Older Workers Employment Action Plan which aims helping employers to be more inclusive and plan for an ageing workforce; this includes the ‘Mature Worker’s Toolkit’, a resource to help businesses hire, develop and retain mature workers.

Updated: 11 Jun 2024
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