OVER QUALIFIED: Stephen Hey is 62, smart and ready to get stuck in. But despite his shining resume, he can't land a job after 18 months of searching.
OVER QUALIFIED: Stephen Hey is 62, smart and ready to get stuck in. But despite his shining resume, he can't land a job after 18 months of searching. Marian Faa

TOO OLD AND QUALIFIED: Age discrimination haunts job seekers

OLDER Australians have been touted as the "winners" of the 2018-19 federal, but 62-year-old Warwick resident Stephen Hey thinks some of the benefits will be short lived.

After 18-months of tireless job hunting, Mr Hey is the perfect candidate for an expanded 'Restart' wage subsidy announced by federal treasurer Scott Morrison on Tuesday night.

A qualified industrial electrician with management experience, Mr Hey has applied for countless jobs in customer service and labour industries but "can't even get a look in" with local employers.

"No one looks at anyone over the age of 60," he said.

"I think it is because we know our rights and they have got to pay us more money than a junior."

 

WE WANT TO WORK: Older employers are loyal, hard-working and full of life experience. But Mr Hey puts his difficulties landing work down to age discrimination.
WE WANT TO WORK: Older employers are loyal, hard-working and full of life experience. But Mr Hey puts his difficulties landing work down to age discrimination. Marian Faa

The restart subsidy is a $10,000 package designed to incentivise employers to take on workers over the age of 50.

But Mr Hey has been the beneficiary of such incentives before and the rewards didn't last.

After 10 months in subsidised position doing contracted maintenance work, Mr Hey was waved goodbye and a younger employer was ushered in to fill his position.

"They got rid of me as soon as the money ran out."

Mr Hey said being overqualified was a disadvantage and he had even "dumbed down" his resume to make his application more appealing.

"People look at you and wonder why a qualified person would want to apply for a cleaner's job but I've had too many electric shocks in my life and the next one might be fatal."

The continual knockbacks begin to take a toll, and after 18 months Mr Hey was feeling disheartened.

Warwick psychologist Mark Cary said paid employment could boost self esteem in seniors and protect against mental health issues.

 

A HOME FOR WORKERS: The team at Olsens Home Hardware and Paint Place is a happy family full of workers over the age of 50. Despite their age there's no shortage of action.
A HOME FOR WORKERS: The team at Olsens Home Hardware and Paint Place is a happy family full of workers over the age of 50. Despite their age there's no shortage of action. Marian Faa

"Meaningful work can help reduce depression and anxiety and will also benefit the relationships with people who associate with that worker."

"Giving them a job helps them find a sense of purpose and meaning."

Mr Cary said he was supportive of the government incentive.

"I think for the over 50s they do place a higher value on job security and they usually have a better work ethic in my opinion," he said.

"I think employers should certainly consider someone over 50."

Olsens Hardware owner Alan Olsen is in agreement, with a sturdy workforce made up mostly of people over the age of 50.

"We find they are better dealing with customers, they are reliable and loyal and for our sort of business they have a bit more life experience," Mr Olsen said.

His oldest current employee is 80 years of age.

 

HAMMERING ON: Hardware legend John Byron is 80 and still works Sundays at Olsens Home Hardware.
HAMMERING ON: Hardware legend John Byron is 80 and still works Sundays at Olsens Home Hardware. Marian Faa

"He just likes to get out and meet people, work is like an outing for him," Mr Olsen said.

But for those struggling to find employment in their senior years, the reality can be tough.

Mr Hey said he was disheartened that employers wouldn't even grant him an interview.

"It gets to a point where you want to give up applying."

"I think it up to the individual employers to look at older people and see them as useful in society."

Anyone who may have a spot for Stephen can phone him on 0408 649 312.



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