Reaching age 50 can be an exasperating experience in Israel’s increasingly sophisticated job market. The problems of 50+ persons in finding suitable employment was again brought to light recently on Channel 10 TV; in which Mr. Oded Levinton, Manager and Treasurer of the “Fifty Plus/Minus” foundation, reiterated the difficulties that older people have in finding suitable work in Israel’s technical and youth oriented economy.
Mr. Levinton, who himself has not held a regular job for more than five years, said that more and more people in this increasing age group, many of whom are highly qualified, are finding the ‘windows of opportunity’ are becoming narrower and narrower, with only less desirable low paid jobs available. According to Mr. Levinton, employers feel ‘uncomfortable’ to hire an older worker, even though that person has qualifications that can be used. “It appears that in the end, an employer prefers to hire a younger person, even though that person may not have the skills that are actually needed. The employer appears to feel ‘uncomfortable’ and even ’embarrassed’ by having to ask an older, experienced person to perform a menial task such as sorting out incoming mail or making a cup of coffee for persons attending a morning meeting.
Also on the program was a representative from the government employment office’s Institute for Skilled Workers, known in Hebrew as the Lishkat Ha’taasuka. The representative said that his agency is very much aware of the problem that older workers face, but that this is a world-wide phenomenon that is a reality of our modern, technical oriented age when people are retiring later and living longer. He continued by saying that efforts are now being made to pay more attention to the plight of older workers, especially those over age 50, with more re-training programs being offered.
Re-training programs? This idea has been used before, but still doesn’t solve the problem of employers passing over older people in favor of those who are considerably younger. And for those in the 60+ age bracket, the situation is even more desperate, with virtually no opportunities available.
While Israel is now considered to be a free market economy, and fewer jobs are guaranteed anymore, the time may have come for everyone to realize that with former ‘baby boomers’ from the 1950’s and ’60s either approaching or already in this age group, more attention had better be made to try to help older workers find suitable employment, other than jobs on the lower work rungs of the career opportunity ‘ladder’ which pay no better than minimum or near-minimum wage, and are usually on an hourly basis with virtually no social benefits.
Since some of the readers of this web blog may be in the age group already, or nearing it, reader comments will most certainly be welcome. This is a problem that may get worse before it gets better, and will affect more and more people, unless solutions are found to help put this able and qualified manpower pool to better use.