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.

The Advertiser - Careers - - Front Page -

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

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