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An ageing workforce

Like the population of New Zealand, the Public Service workforce is aging gradually as increasing number of baby boomers are reaching retirement age. Figure 4.5 shows the trends of aging Public Service workforce over the period 2000-2015, with increasing proportion in the over 50 years age groups and decreasing proportion the younger age groups. Figure 4.6 also shows the percentage of staff that are over 55 years of age has been increasing year on year for the last 15 years. In 2015, the Public Service had a similar proportion of older workers as the general workforce.

Figure 4.5 Public Service employee age profile, June 2015

Figure 4.5 Public Service employee age profile, June 2015

Figure 4.6 Percentage of staff over 55 years of age in the Public Service, 30 June 2015

Figure 4.6 Percentage of staff over 55 years of age in the Public Service, 30 June 2015

Table 4.8 shows that over the last 14 years, staff in the Public Service are retiring later. In 2015, 47% of staff who retired were in the 65-69 age group (10.6% in 2001). This increase in retirement age is partly related to the increase in the age of eligibility for New Zealand Superannuation to 65 in the early 2000s, but it is also seen in older age groups.

Table 4.8 Trends in retirement age, 30 June 2001-2015

Age group

2001

2005

2010

2015

50-54

19.2%

17.7%

13.8%

4.6%

55-59

31.1%

24.0%

11.7%

11.1%

60-64

39.1%

32.5%

32.2%

25.1%

65-69

10.6%

25.5%

35.0%

47.0%

70-74

0.0%

0.4%

6.0%

10.4%

75-79

0.0%

0.0%

1.4%

1.8%

There are several impacts of staff retiring later – there is more opportunity for:

  • retaining public sector knowledge
  • effective succession management
  • better responding to the needs of ageing staff
  • maximising the investment in human capital.

In 2004, a SSC survey of departments showed that, as well as having a vast amount of experience and organisational knowledge, there was a perception that older staff can be averse to change and can be seen to limit the career opportunities for younger staff.

In responding to an increasing proportion of older workers, survey respondents indicated that the most important factors for managing the ageing workforce are work-life balance and flexible work practices, and workforce planning. More findings are available at http://www.ssc.govt.nz/information-ageing-ps-workforce.

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