NSW government supports research to protect ageing workforce

Published: 25 Aug 2021

Australians are continuing to work for longer than ever before, with a growing proportion of people aged 65 years and over now in the workforce.

To support these experienced workers, the NSW Government has invested in two new research projects to help ensure work environments are healthy, safe and sustainable for older workers.

Minister for Better Regulation and Innovation Kevin Anderson said the research projects will focus on the assessment and prevention of work health and safety risks associated with an ageing workforce to ensure people can safely remain in the workplace and businesses can continue to benefit from their experience.

“In some industries, we’re seeing experienced workers choosing to leave the workforce earlier than they would like due to health and wellness problems caused by the physical and psychological demands of their job,” Mr Anderson said.

“By making workplaces safer for older workers, we can ensure the workforce does not experience the grievances associated with skill shortages. This is particularly important in our regional and remote communities where industry expertise is often held by a limited number of individuals.”

The Healthy Older Worker Toolkit study, in partnership with Edith Cowan University, will identify and assess the impact of workforce ageing on work health and safety systems. The Toolkit will create an evidence-based tool to help businesses design healthy, safe and sustainable environments for older workers.

The Ageing in Nursing and Construction project, in partnership with the Western Sydney University, will address the lack of information on specific challenges in these critical sectors, where maintaining physical and psychological wellbeing is critical to the performance of their work.

The research projects will include literature reviews, an older worker survey, social media content, sentiment analysis and the measuring of stress levels through cortisol detection in hair samples.

Minister for Seniors Natalie Ward said the projects will empower businesses to create safer and healthier working environments for their older employees and highlight the valuable role these older people play in the workplace.

“Diversity in any workplace is a good thing and this is particularly true when it comes to the invaluable experience older employees can bring to an industry,” Mrs Ward said.

“Through this research we will aim to highlight the importance of keeping older people safe in the workplace so they can continue to benefit their communities with their enriched skills and experience.”

Mr Anderson said the program of research is timely following the release of the 2021-22 NSW Intergenerational Report in June 2021 by the NSW Government. The Report identified that the prosperity of NSW over the next 40 years will depend on the size and age structure of our population, the degree of workforce participation, the proportion of people actively engaged in or looking for work, and the level of productivity.

“With a growing proportion of people aged over 65, it’s inevitable the workforce is also ageing and the number of older workers in jobs is on the increase,” Mr Anderson said.

“Finding solutions and creating change in the workplace will help workers remain healthy, engaged and provide an opportunity to extend their careers.”

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