Employers have mainly positive experiences with mature age apprenticeships, according to a new survey by the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI). They say these individuals are easy to train and immediately productive, but many older adults aren’t aware that such programs are available to them.
One of the benefits a majority of the survey respondents share is the perceived value of mature aged hires over youth apprentices. Employers generally believe that adult workers will demonstrate a reliability and stability superior to that of the younger staff.
Reliability, positive attitude and independence were all important characteristics that employers believed older apprentices consistently delivered.
One consideration when hiring an apprentice is the return on investment. Because adult workers often have previous work experience and better understanding of the workforce, they are easier to train.
Usually needing less supervision and management, mature age apprentices are often more immediately productive in the workplace and therefore can provide the return on investments with significantly less employer time and effort.
Supply and demand
The ACCI survey, built from interviews and case studies from various Australian industries, also revealed that although there is a high level of interest in hiring mature age apprentices, the number of applicants is consistently below demand.
The survey respondents believe this is because there is a failure in advertising for mature age apprenticeships as most promotional material shows young apprentices. Employers believe that older adults are not aware of the opportunities available to them because of the misleading advertising.
Another factor that discourages adult workers from taking on apprenticeships is the challenge of balancing work and family. Employers are aware of the difficulties of mature age apprenticeships and believe that steps should be taken to deliver more flexible training and apprentice support.
Ultimately, the survey showed employers have positive attitudes towards hiring older apprentices and display a strong willingness to accommodate mature aged workers.