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Breaking down barriers to get older females back to work

Jeanette Hayden of Camira has started her own business selling Paradise Nutrients.
Jeanette Hayden of Camira has started her own business selling Paradise Nutrients. David Nielsen

IMAGINE working at the same place your whole life only to be left jobless and with no current qualifications.

That was the reality for Camira resident Jeanette Hayden who was forced into unemployment due to a work injury.

A retail assistant for the same company for thirty years, Mrs Hayden said the job loss five years ago was a huge blow to her self-esteem and something she continued to battle with.

"Because I had been working in the same job for such a long time, I didn't have any certificates to say I was qualified in anything in particular, so that was a huge stumbling block for me,” Mrs Hayden said.

"I just remember thinking, what else can I do at my age, I'm literally starting from nothing.

"I'd never even been to a job interview, so the thought of having to do that was really scary.”

Mrs Hayden recently participated in the Upower Women's Leadership program which lead to her starting her own supplements business, but prior to that, even after completing a degree in social sciences she was still unable to find a job.

"After I lost my job I started to get a bit depressed and knew I needed to do something to get myself up and going, so I thought I would do something positive and do some study,” she said.

"Once I finished my degree and was looking for work, I still couldn't find a job because everybody was looking for someone with paid work experience, so none of the placement hours I had done counted.

"After two years of applying for jobs I finally go to a point where I started to question if that was the industry I was really meant to work in.”

Mrs Hayden found her age had also been a barrier to securing employment and said it was a similar experience for many women she knew.

"I have a couple of friends over 50 who are not working and have even done courses in different things to try to improve their chances but they still can't find a job,” Mrs Hayden said.

"I think it's a combination of employers looking for younger people because they're cheaper, but I also get the impression that once you hit a certain age, they think you can't cope physically.

"There are definitely a lot of people out there over 50 who would love to work for a couple of days and to even share that position.”

Ipswich social advocate and enterprise Wiserr along with Upower Women's Leadership program are seeking to help people in Mrs Hayden's position and will collaborate to provide a full-circle support network to help get older people back into the workforce.

Wiserr founder, Kate Perry said the collaboration would help provide people a holistic support service to help build confidence and create jobs.

"Wiserr is an intergenerational website platform for 48+ year olds that will enable people to create their own job opportunities and to connect those with knowledge with those seeking knowledge,” Ms Perry said.

"During a six week focus group I ran the biggest barrier my participants found was simply not knowing where to start or where to go with their ideas, as well as not feeling validated.

"Another issue was that many times during the job application process and due to the high volume of job applications, recruitment agents will automatically dismiss them as a potential employee if they are above 50 years-old.

"Through our collaboration with Upower, we hope to set up a free, self-sustaining network for the community where we can train up some local heroes who can then train others and continue the cycle of up-skilling.”

Wiserr and Upower Women's Leadership Program will officially launch on May 30. Go to http://wiserr.org/ for more information.

Topics:  ipswich jobs older workers springfield unemployment upower leadership program wiserr


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