Let’s Have An All Age Workforce!

This is Peter Weston!

A cafe in the beautiful town of Queenscliff, on Victoria’s Bellarine Peninsula, has actively set out to employ mature people. The owner, Barry Iddles, couldn’t find workers so he ran a campaign targeting older people.  He’s very pleased with his new staff, who are aged in their 70’s and 60’s (plus, there’s a 57 year old).  He also employs younger staff.

The ABC noted that Barry had received more applications than he could handle. ‘I have another four champing at the bit to join our team.’ he said.

The good news story, about employing mature aged people, spread across the Pacific Ocean to New Zealand. Barry told RNZ: ‘None of these guys have got any hospitality experience at all, but they do have life skills and they took to it like a duck to water. The interaction between young and old is absolutely amazing’.

Thin strip of coastal land with ocean both sides, a small town on the left and a larger town in the distance. Ocean on the right hand side is bright blue with creamy sand, mature people
Point Lonsdale looking towards Queenscliff, Vic, Photo: Pat Whelan

Barry also told RNZ: ‘I would like to see everyone out here and in New Zealand become positive and proactive. Don’t be frightened to hire the older generation, and don’t be frightened to get the young ones in and train them up. ‘Don’t go around going ‘There’s no staff, there’s no staff’ because I guarantee if that’s your attitude, you’ll never get anyone.’

Mature People Work For Many Reasons

People continue to work for many reasons. Some people take a ‘breather’ after their retirement before deciding to work full or part time, some start a side hustle or volunteer. Others ‘keep on keeping on’. 

Financial reasons can be a factor in people continuing to work. Work gives us not only income. Activity, structure, time management, socialisation, security and the feeling of making a contribution are also factors.

In George Vaillant’s book, Aging Well he asked people why they hadn’t retired. Some of their answers included: 

My partner retired….’
‘I like challenges, the people, the money….’
‘The nest egg wasn’t sufficient after two divorces….’
‘Since I am alone, my job is a sizable piece of my social life….’
‘A writer writes, a painter paints.…’​ ​‘The field I am in is an exciting phase and people want to pay me….’.

Determination and Persistence

Peter Weston grew up in New Zealand. He spent 43 years working and living overseas in Italy and China.  He believes an open mind and readiness to adapt to adapt to local customs is essential. (By the way that photo of a man doing a handstand is actually Peter!).

Man in black shirt with a small green logo holding a microphone standing in front of a blue and white sign, mature people
Peter Weston

Peter has wonderful determination and persistence.  You will read about this shortly.

He started as an apprentice  in the Prepress industry in New Zealand  ‘This is the part that comes before the printing process and encompasses the creative process to file preparation before printing’.

Initially Peter went to the UK looking for work. In 1981 he went to Italy to meet a friend. He worked for a Prepress company – despite not speaking a word of Italian!

Around 10 years ago Peter ‘went to China to set up an outsourcing company in the print industry to produce store signage for Italian Fashion brands for the APAC region’.

Eventually  Peter returned to New Zealand.

Many Opportunities To Suit His Skills

He applied for more than 200 jobs.  ‘I applied for anything I thought I could do in my industry. Actually there are many opportunities that would suit my skills’.

He is now employed as a sales/account manager in a busy printing company. Soon he will be taking over from a staff member who is leaving. His role will be to look after the top clients of the company.

From his experience, Peter believes that mature people wanting to work in New Zealand should consider directly contacting the General Manager or owner of a business. 

Flexibility and ‘Can Do’ Attitude

‘People also need to be flexible and have a ‘can do’ attitude. For example, I had to drive the company pick-up truck to the courier one evening because the driver had left and no one else could drive a manual gear vehicle.’ 

Having enthusiasm and a unique skill set is also important, adds Peter. He was also believes that his dedication to keeping fit over the last three years may have also helped to get me a job.

Why does Peter like working?

‘I continue to work to keep busy and youthful. I also live alone so working keeps me going. I have always worked during my life since I left school. I enjoy what I do and I have learnt how to have a good work/life balance. I don’t consider working to be a chore but something I enjoy doing and sharing my experience gives me pleasure’.

The power of determination and persistence certainly worked for Peter. Thinking outside the square certainly worked for Barry Iddles and his ‘all age’ workforce.

Come on employers, give people with the skills and experience a chance!

Jill Weeks has been an educator and author for many years. She is the author of 21 Ways To Retire, which gives insights into how 21 Australians from different backgrounds adjusted to retirementShe is also the co-author with her husband, Owen, of several editions of Where To Retire In Australia and one of Retire Bizzi

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