Big jump in older WA men still in workforce
Steve Hodgetts, 64, is happy to continue working as an engineering consultant. Picture: Megan Powell/The West Australian

WA is leading the way at keeping older men in the workforce, research shows.

As the Abbott Government mulls lifting the pension age to 70, lobby group National Seniors Australia has found wide variations across the country in rates of mature-age employment.

Federal, State and local governments in particular were lagging the private sector in employing people aged over 60.

Drawing on Census and Bureau of Statistics figures, the NSA's report found WA recorded the biggest increase in the participation rate of older workers over the past two decades.

The percentage of WA men aged 60-64 in the workforce jumped from 40 per cent to 72 per cent between 1992 and 2012. Female participation rose from 15 per cent to 61 per cent.

WA's participation rate for older men is second only to the Northern Territory and well above the 62 per cent national rate.

Researchers found the trend towards employing more mature workers in WA began about 10 years before the rest of the country and was a product of the explosion in the resources industry.

"In WA, there is relatively high labour force participation for males of all ages over 45 years but female levels are broadly consistent with the national level," the report said.

At 64, Hamersley man Steve Hodgetts is a prime example of older workers still clocking on.

He has cut back his workload to part-time and plans to retire in 12 months or so but says he still enjoys his job as a consultant engineer for the petroleum industry.

Mr Hodgetts said his employer made an effort to hire some "greyheads" because of the knowledge and stabilising influence on younger workers they offered.

"At one stage . . . I thought no one would hire me because I was 40 when they could hire a 20-year-old but now I'm in my 60s and still working," he said. "As long as you have got the experience behind you I don't see there is a problem."

'I thought no one would hire me because I was 40 . . . but now I'm in my 60s and still working.'" *Steve Hodgetts *

The West Australian

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