Concerns raised for ageing female workers

There's concern for ageing female workers with new research showing there's a large number working low-paid and physically demanding shift work.

Elderly Source: 1 NEWS

Researchers say women will be particularly vulnerable as they age if they can no longer cope with long hours at work and their incomes suffer as a result.

The paper entitled Employment of Older Women in New Zealand was commissioned by the National Advisory Council on the Employment of Women, which consults with the Ministry for Women's Affairs.

The author, Dr Paul Callister, says baby boomers aren't following old patterns, and many will continue to work into their 70s or 80s.

"For instance, in 20 years' time, those 65-years and older could occupy 12% of the workforce, up from 5% in 2011. And nearly 30% of women this age may be in paid work, significantly increasing tax contributions and spending capacity".

Traci Houpapa, chief executive of the National Advisory Council on the Employment of Women, says women are over-represented in jobs where physical labour, low pay and shift work can make on- going employment difficult as these workers age.

"These sectors include aged care and the health sector, where career mobility is essential when existing employment is unsustainable due to high physical demand or when long hours of work are required."

The research says more and more women over the age of 65 are working too. In 1995 2% of women 65 or older were working, compared to 2014 where 14% are now employed.

It also predicts by 2061 30% of the female population will be older than 65.

Tracy Houpapa says ageism is a major barrier to older women wanting to work.

"Age discrimination can also have an impact, reducing the ability of older workers to change careers later in life if issues start to occur, therefore more flexible, sustainable employment is required to enable older workers to stay in the labour force.

"Ageing female workers with low qualifications are therefore seen as a vulnerable sector in the labour force and Dr Callister's presentation is an initial step to progress NACEW's work in this area," she says.

The Council plans to do further research before it comes up with recommendations for the Government on how it can better improve conditions for an ageing female workforce.