Economic Contribution of Elders

Posted by [email protected] on December 15, 2014 at 2:20 PM


The Kāpiti Coast Older Persons' Council is concerned that the Draft KÀPITI COAST DISTRICT ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY 2015–2018 is missing an economic opportunity.


While the Draft Strategy says “ we must be successful in attracting and retaining young talent” it ignores the fact that we are already attracting older talent and not fully realising the economic potential of established demographic trends, where we have twice the national average of older people.


Many older people are clearly willing to work. The 2012 Workforce Demographic Trends report by the EEO Trust showed that:


New Zealand has one of the highest rates of labour - force participation in the OECD for the 65+ age group .


In 2011, nearly 1 in 5 (19%) of New Zealanders aged 65+ was in the workforce, up from 9% in 2001.


There are now more 60 -64 year olds than 15 - 19 year olds in workforce, and those aged 60+ are almost double the number and percentage of 15 -19 year olds .


There are advantages in employing older people. The New Zealand Treasury Working Paper 13/21 quoted organisational productivity benefits of older workers, including:

  • experience;
  • reliability and dependability;
  • people skills;
  • loyalty;
  • low turnover;
  • low absenteeism; and
  • attention to quality of work.


Furthermore the New Zealand Department of Labour has debunked some myths about older workers:



This is not supported by evidence. Older staff work smarter, take fewer risks and have lower accident rates than many other age groups.



Attendance records are actually better for older workers. Any significant increase in hospital stays or sick leave is not likely to show up until people are aged over 80.



Older workers tend to stay in a job longer than young ones, so less needs to be spent on their recruitment, hiring and training in generic skills.



While older workers sometimes take longer to absorb completely new material, their better study habits and accumulated experience actually lower training costs.


An EEO Trust survey in 2006 showed that older workers have different motivations, including:


  • Challenging, interesting, varied work;
  • Quality part-time work;
  • The ability to make a difference;
  • Having experience needed and valued;
  • Less stress; and
  • Flexible working hours


Less likely to be influential was pay rates.


As the draft strategy points out, many in our community “of the working population work outside Kāpiti”. Later in life they are being joined by others attracted by lifestyle advantages of Kāpiti. Together these groups represent a pool of skills and experience that could represent a considerable economic advantage to this district.


However, while older people can often stay in a job they find it particularly difficult to get new employment. That difficulty applies to those who have moved to Kāpiti, and those who have worked outside the area while residing here.


The Kāpiti Coast Older Persons' Council suggests that the Draft KÀPITI COAST DISTRICT ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY 2015–2018 should recognise the economic opportunity presented by its older population, and promote capitalising on this resource.


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