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Research highlights value of older workers


Brigid Veale
23 May 2007
Many employers continue to pass over mature age workers, believing that they are costly, inflexible, unmotivated and unadaptable, Southern Cross University student Liz Chan will tell a symposium at the Tweed Gold Coast campus this weekend (May 26 and 27).

“This is despite the fact that Australia’s shortage of skilled labour is expected to accelerate and that mature age workers bring indisputable value, reliability, dedication and commitment to their jobs,” Liz said.

“The time has come for Australians to realise that they have a vested interest in changing this perception of mature age workers and that they must work towards intergenerational harmony and solidarity.”

Liz is one of almost 80 Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) and PhD candidates giving presentations at the university’s bi-annual Doctoral Symposium, which will bring together business leaders, academics and researchers from across the Asia-Pacific region.

Speakers will discuss a fascinating array of projects, from dance party motivations and the obstacles faced by women in leadership roles to Australia’s acceptance of hybrid cars and relationships in local government.

Associate Professor Peter Miller, director of the DBA program with the Graduate College of Management, said the meeting of minds this weekend would bring together a wealth of talent.

“The candidates we have sharing their research exemplify Southern Cross University’s high standard of research excellence,” he said.

“But don’t be mistaken; this is not just theoretical research. We pride ourselves on the fact that the research conducted by our candidates has direct applications in industry and a lot of their research is commercialised. We also have one of the best completion rates of any Australian university, with 22 DBA candidates graduating last year and 11 so far this year.”

Formerly the manager of a multi-national organisation and now a full-time student, Liz Chan’s research sought to better understand why mature age employees are leaving active employment before retirement age and what can be done to retain them in the workforce.

“I found that human resource management, organisational culture, occupational health and safety and superannuation or retirement incomes were the main factors behind mature age employees retiring early,” she said.

“My study also showed that after the initial honeymoon period of retirement, most mature age workers find that they are in financial crisis and many have started to look for work or are working on a part-time basis in the hope of increasing their retirement income.”

The symposium will be held across the weekend at Southern Cross University’s Tweed Gold Coast campus, Brett Street, on Saturday and Sunday.