Jobs for the young at heart
Grey nomads looking to stay on the road for good are finding interesting jobs to finance the lifestyle. Fran Metcalf reports.
GREY nomads travelling across Australia have access to a new employment service to help them get shortterm work while on the road.
It is helping mature travellers earn money to pay for on-the-road expenses while filling vacancies in regional employment markets.
The work is also recognising that mature workers have skills, expertise and interests that are needed in areas where experienced workers are in high demand.
PATRICIA Woodgate and John Squirrell may fit the grey nomad mould but they belie much of the babyboomer stereotype.
Ms Woodgate, 57, and Mr Squirrell, 66, are just as connected, tech-savvy and mobile as their adult children and their school-age grandchildren.
After selling up everything and travelling the country for three years, the couple decided they wanted to stay on the road for good and began looking for ways to support their adventurous spirits. They found it at www.grey nomadsemployment.com.
‘‘You can get just about any kind of job anywhere in Australia on that website,’’ Ms Woodgate says.
‘‘People used to think fruit picking was it, but not any more.’’
The website was created by Springwood accountant Ken Magoffin, who says many of his clients want to retire and travel the country but need a source of income to help pay their expenses.
‘‘There seemed to be a prejudice about their age,’’ Mr Magoffin says.
‘‘I decided to build a website – a twoway contact database – about two years ago and I now have 1600 mem- bers, with one or two more joining every day.’’
Jobseekers can pay an annual membership fee of $50 to search the website for work or post their preferences on the site, while employers are able to advertise from $88.
During the past year, Ms Woodgate and Mr Squirrell have run a 10,000ha cattle station in western Queensland, worked as a receptionist and groundsman at a resort in Mt Augustus, Western Australia, and house-sat in various states.
The Federal Government this year launched a $43 million package to tackle the issues of the ageing popu- lation by helping to retain the expertise of older Australians in the workforce and transfer it to younger workers.
A Griffith University study has found many older workers enjoy work and embrace new technology and training.
It found older workers are more likely to retire if they are unable to engage in interesting work, denied opportunities for passing on their knowledge or are not respected and acknowledged by their peers.
‘‘The evidence suggests these workers continually learn while remaining competent in their work. So, governmental and employer investment in skill development for workers aged over 45 seems warranted,’’ Professor Stephen Billett says.
Mr Magoffin says employers value the reliability, honesty and experience older workers offer.
‘‘They’re usually prepared to stay around for a while. A lot of grey nomads have picked up multiple skills over the course of their working lives,’’ he says.
Ms Woodgate says many employers are ‘‘waking up’’ to the value of older workers.
Working grey nomads Patricia Woodgate and John Squirrell at the Big 4 Caravan Park at Aspley, Brisbane. Picture: Mark Cranitch