Mature-age learners: challenges and opportunities

by L&D14 Mar 2017
Any organisation would know that mature-age learners have experienced a lot, and as such, they view work differently from their younger counterparts – particularly Millennials.

For example, mature-age learners already have the basics of participating in the workforce covered, and understand what's expected of them on the job.

However, the workplace of today is markedly different to what they experienced in their youth, and as such this means that organisations have a responsibility to ensure mature-age workers understand how to utilise modern learning tools.

Fortunately, there are ways in which the learning journey of mature-age workers can be made simpler and less stressful.

In January, a report titled: ‘Engage me: the mature-age worker and stereotype threat’ – was published in the Academy of Management Journal revealed two types of management practices that increase engagement among these learners.

High-performance practices: These practices focus on training employees, rewarding them for good performance and encouraging them to participate in organisational decisions. This applies to any worker – young or old.

The specific focus: The second type focuses specifically on mature-age workers; things like updating their skills, redesigning jobs to accommodate their physical needs, giving them opportunities to mentor other people, or allowing them to ease into retirement.

According to Chris Walton, CEO of Professionals Australia, the vast majority of people over the age of 45 want to be working, and have a contribution to make, so barriers to their participation need to be addressed.

“Employers must ensure that mature-age learners have meaningful career progression opportunities if Australia is to retain expertise and achieve full workforce participation with an aging population,” he said.

“Experienced professionals will drive future prosperity in a knowledge economy, because they have the flexibility, life experience and strategic understanding to deliver across complex projects.”

Related stories:
Don’t neglect your mature-age worker’s training needs
Workers over 45 lack opportunities to mentor yong staff, says survey