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No surprise at changing age of workforce

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Business News | Friday February 17 2012 8:21

No surprise at changing age of workforce

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Business New Zealand says it's no surprise that young people are finding themselves on the sidelines of the work force.

Figures from the Salvation Army show that in the past five years, the number of 15 to 19-year-olds in the workforce has dropped by about the same number of over 65s who have stayed in the workforce past retirement age.

CEO Phil O'Reilly says the change can be traced back to 2008, when youth rates were abolished at the same time the New Zealand economy started to go into recession.

"You saw an economic shock going on which is always bad for those at the margins of the workforce including young people looking for their first job, and at the same time those young people became comparatively more expensive in the labour market."

Mr O'Reilly says it's not good for the economy long term as if young people continue to be on the sidelines of the workforce, it will have an impact on their earning and tax-paying capacity in the future.

He hopes the revelation that employers prefer to take on someone experienced, encourages young people to make sure they have work-ready skills.

"They need to strive to make sure they've got good literacy and numeracy, that they have a collection of NCEA results that's relevant to the workplace and they think about that and talk about that with their careers advisors and their parents and potentially some workplaces."

Mr O'Reilly says young people feel quite expensive to employers because there are no youth rates.

Greypower president Roy Reid says people are living and ageing better, keeping them in employment and believes age simply isn't a factor anymore.

He says 60 is the new 50, and that's why youngsters are being kept out of the workforce.

"I'm well aware of some people in their eighties still working, the main reason for it is they feel that they can work."

Mr Reid says at least 10 percent of members are still working after the age of 65.

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