3 Trends in the Mature Workforce

Drake Editorial Team

When was the last time you considered someone in the 50+ age group for a position in your company? There have been countless reports, research studies and statistics that indicate a huge demographic shift is taking place in the workforce. Since 1964 there has been a decline of births that will create a shortage of younger candidates entering the labour market.

People are living longer, they are healthier, and they want to continue working and being productive — mature workers are a cohort not to overlook. This blog article will explore three New Zealand trends in the mature workforce.

Trend 1: Mature workers are delaying retirement

Retirement at 65 is becoming a thing of the past. According to research conducted by Colmar Brunton, 59% of older workers are planning to keep working, at least part-time, over the age of 65. Half of workers aged 65-69 are still working.

People's decision on when to retire are varied and largely dependent on factors such as whether they must work long hours, health factors, their financial situation, and their attitudes towards new technologies and social media.

Trend 2: Mature workers account for workforce growth

According to Office for Seniors, approximately 1.7 million people are aged 50+ in New Zealand. This accounts for 33.7% of the total population. By 2033, this number will increase to around 2.1 million or 37.5% of New Zealand’s population. Older workers will continue to make up approximately one third of the labour force.

This cohort are on the front line of the largest, healthiest and best educated population to ever move through and beyond their 50s. There is no end in sight to this trend that reverses several decades of declining workforce participation by this demographic.

Trend 3: Recruiting and retaining older workers — a skills shortage solution

Employers may find themselves competing for the most skilled and knowledgeable individuals in the 50+ age group as baby boomers develop dual identities—becoming the retiree and the coveted employee.

Companies who embrace the importance of recruiting and retaining their older workers will not only benefit in a skills short market, but also gain the experience and mentoring that the mature cohort can offer younger employees.

A 2015 study on workers aged 55+ by the Department of Labour revealed that alternative working arrangements are important in encouraging older workers to stay on the job. 52.6% of respondents said that flexible work, reduced hours, and extended flexible leave would enable them to remain in their jobs as they aged.

It is increasingly important for companies to look at how to motivate all age groups to retain their workforce. Retention strategies which are valuable to the mature worker can also be desirable to the younger generation as well. Some benefits to offer the mature workforce can include part-time employment, flexible hours, and longer vacation times. This would encourage older workers to delay retirement and continue working for organisation’s who value their expertise and experience.  


With a record low unemployment rate, and with the baby boom generation preparing to exit the workforce, many organisations are recognising that recruiting and retaining older workers will benefit their business. With companies across every industry sector searching for talent, hiring and retaining older workers can be a recipe for success.

If you would like help finding talent to support your business needs, contact Drake New Zealand today.

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