Bridging tech generation gap for older job seekers
When Georgina was made redundant from her manufacturing job in February this year, the Corio mother of three felt “completely lost”. Georgina’s fear of facing unemployment in her fifties was compounded by anxiety over her perceived lack of technology skills.
“I felt at a complete disadvantage to younger, more computer-savvy job hunters,” she said. “I was applying for jobs but kept getting knocked back. It was a scary and depressing time.
“Computers and technology appears to be second nature to younger people and my confidence was at rock bottom. The online application processes alone were daunting but I made up my mind to do something about it.”
Georgina’s confidence has since returned and she’s back in employment thanks to the local TechEagles club - a job seeker support group run by not-for-profit employment services organisation Workskil Australia.
TechEagles helps job seekers 45 years and over become more tech-savvy, confident and work-ready. It focusses on building the necessary tech skills among these job seekers such as online applications, working with tablets and smartphones, social media and using word programs to build a resume. The program, which began in July, also provides career coaching and wellbeing support in group and one-on-one sessions.
Workskil Australia runs the TechEagles program in Victoria as well as in NSW and South Australia though Workforce Australia - Career Transition Assistance program.
Of the 19 local participants in the Barwon region who have completed the program, 12 have already found employment.
“Besides learning a lot of new skills and meeting new people, TechEagles was really a great journey of self-discovery for me,” Georgina said.
“I realised I was far more capable than I had originally given myself credit for. My kids are proud of what I have achieved and that drives me to stretch myself even further.
“Since completing the program, I’m now working with Capital Commercial Cleaning and I’ve enrolled in a business administration course. I also enjoy volunteering at a local charity once a week.”
For many jobseekers like Georgina, technology can seem like an insurmountable barrier to employment, according to Workskil Australia Chief Executive Officer Nicole Dwyer. “There is a high level of tech-anxiety among many older jobseekers,” Ms Dwyer said. “While technology can come naturally to those born into the modern digital world, for older job seekers that’s not often the case. Not only can older job seekers face age discrimination,those that lack digital skills feel even further disadvantaged in the jobs market.
“Workskil Australia’s focus is to improve the employability of all job seekers we come in contact with. By providing guidance, support and training, we’re seeing skill and confidence levels increase among the TechEagles participants.
“Without this level of training and support there’s a real risk the technology generation gap will continue to widen and place many job seekers at further disadvantage.”
You can see Georgina's story in the Geelong Advertiser.