5. The ageing population/workforce

New Zealand has an ageing population. Those over the age of 65 are expected to grow from 14.3 per cent of the population today to 23.8 per cent by 2043.1 This means there is going to be a greater level of demand on the taxpayer base and an increasing need for access to appropriate social and health services. 

It also means we may need to lift the participation rate of the workforce and encourage those over 65 to remain in the workforce, while creating opportunities for sharing and transferring valuable knowledge and skills between generations.

As a greater number of older workers remain in the workforce the competition for work will increase. Those who opt to continue working beyond 65 may find the changing nature of work results in their ‘traditional’ work no longer existing. Those over 65 wishing to continue working may prefer to ease out of employment by reducing hours, rather than cease work immediately.

Some of the specific challenges are:

  • How can we eliminate discrimination against older workers and encourage more roles that take advantage of their knowledge and experience?
  • What retraining opportunities can we provide for older workers so they can continue to participate in the changing workforce?
  • What incentives can we provide for older workers to participate in the workforce for longer without disadvantaging those who need to retire earlier?
  • What initiatives can be implemented to facilitate a two way exchange of knowledge, skills and ideas between older and younger workers?
  • What work conditions can be promoted to provide older workers with the flexibility to ease out of employment slowly?
  • Recognising the implications for families caring for disabled and elderly family members, how do we provide training opportunities and financial incentives to ensure home care is safe and people are supported to care for their loved ones?
  • Respite is crucial for keeping both the carer and the person requiring care safe. What respite opportunities are there and how could they be extended?

The formal aged care workforce will continue to expand with our aging population.  Currently the workforce is highly feminised and underpaid.  A large number of private facilities are providing care in this area.

Issue to consider:

  • How do we regulate the workforce to ensure quality of care is provided and carers are given fair and reasonable working conditions?

[1] Statistics New Zealand, 30 June 2015, 2013 Census QuickStats about people aged 65 and over, http://stats.govt.nz/Census/2013-census/profile-and-summary-reports/quickstats-65-plus.aspx