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"Act Now and Age Later" says white paper on ageing workforce

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An ageing population, a declining birth rate and a deepening skills shortage means a perfect storm is brewing on how New Zealand manages its ageing workforce.

The working group behind a white paper titled "Act Now Age Later: Unlocking the potential of our ageing workforce" wants to raise awareness that the potential benefits of employing, having and engaging with an ageing workforce need to be unlocked. EMA facilitated the working group.

"Ageing populations will change the way our economies and societies work. And it’s vital New Zealand as a whole addresses this dynamic head-on, so that we have an aligned approach for managing this predictable phenomena," says Kim Campbell, CEO, EMA.

"There are many dimensions to an ageing population, however by focusing on the workforce we are able to weave together the strands of government, employers and workers," says Mr Campbell.The white paper was launched at EMA’s premises in Auckland by Seniors Minister, Hon. Tracey Martin today.

The white paper outlined three key recommendations for consideration.  1. A national strategy on the ageing workforce to ensure Government agencies work collaboratively on key policies.  2. Establishment of a Government-led taskforce, or similar, responsible for designing key outcomes and co-ordination of key stakeholders in an independent manner.  3. Development of an ageing workforce tool-kit for both employers and workers to ensure their future needs are met.

The impact of an ageing workforce on some sectors in New Zealand is starting to bite. For example, with almost 24% of New Zealand’s workforce aged 55-plus years there are only four to five teachers/nurses to replace every 10 that will retire. Similarly, a 2016 workforce survey by the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners found 44% of all GPs plan to retire within 10 years (up from 36% two years prior).

In the most recent EMA Employers Survey most employers (83%) have no plans to address the challenge this demographic change will present.

As New Zealanders live and work longer they will have more disposable income. This will assist GST and the tax take and also help with reducing household debt.

"We need to find a way to unlock the potential of older workers and explore how public and private employers are preparing for an increasingly older workforce.

"The ageing workforce presents opportunities for government, for employers and for workers. We argue that the ageing workforce is an untapped resource which is often overlooked and under-invested in," says Mr Campbell.

  • Source: A EMA release