MEDIA RELEASE | Monday 25 January 2016
Experienced STEM professionals miss opportunity to pass skills to next generation
More than half of science, technology, engineering and math professionals over the age of 45 say their workplace does not provide them opportunity to transfer skills to younger staff, according to a new report by Professionals Australia.
“Professionals over the age of 45 bring leadership and decision-making based on decades of experience,” said Chris Walton, CEO of Professionals Australia.
“This report tells us there are a number of serious obstacles facing older professionals. Age-based discrimination and bias are widespread.
“If we do not act on these results, our future STEM workforce will lack the depth and expert capacity to address key economic challenges. It is critical that mature workers have structured opportunities to train and mentor graduates and younger professionals.
“It is concerning that 67.7% of professionals aged over 45 do not get the opportunity to actively mentor younger staff.
“Half of respondents in this survey said there was an assumption in their workplace that older workers are ‘resistant to change,’ and 32.2% reported that other perceived they were ‘headed for retirement,’ and therefore less productive.
“Employers must make sure workers in their 50s and 60s have meaningful career progression opportunities if we are going to retain expertise and achieve full workforce participation with an aging population.
“The supervision of early career professionals by more senior professionals helps younger workers develop sound professional judgment and apply the methods and techniques they have learnt during tertiary studies. This report finds employers are not investing strategically in proper skills transfer, mentoring and succession planning.
“Experienced professionals will drive future prosperity in a knowledge economy. They have the flexibility, life experience and strategic understanding to deliver across complex projects.
“The vast majority of people over the age of 45 (74%) want to be working, and have a contribution to make, so barriers to their participation need to be addressed,” said Mr Walton.
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