Is Donald Trump too old to be president of the United States?

Certainly not in my opinion.  At 70 years of age the recently inaugurated 45th President of the United States, President Trump is an energy machine.  I don’t know where he gets it from.  Nor do I know where Bernie Sanders, Michael Bloomberg or Jim Gilmore got their energy to run for this presidency.  They are all 70 or older.  And Hillary Clinton is 69.

The retirement age here in Australia is 65 and many of us have lofty aspirations to retire well before then.  But why?  If Trump, Sanders, Bloomberg, Gilmore and Clinton (none of whom need to work) keep working well beyond 65, why should we retire so young?

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to supporters as he takes the stage for a campaign event in Dallas, Monday, Sept. 14, 2015. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Unfortunately, the answer to this question is often taken out of the hands of someone older than their mid 50’s.  And that is a big shame.  The ugly fact is that many employers don’t see the value in hiring older workers.  As a result, many willing workers don’t get the opportunity to continue their career or are guided down a path of less meaningful work.  But surely there’s a few less meaningful jobs than running the biggest economy in the world, so why is it that so many employers assume older people don’t have the capacity to work?  Deloitte Access Economics estimates that by 2030 there will be over 5 million Australians aged 55-70 and based on current participation rates only 1.73 million of them will still be in the workforce.

The fact the Australian Government has put in place a ‘Restart wage subsidy’ where employers can access up to $10 000 to hire someone over the age of 50 is embarrassing and a blight on our society.  We all know our population is ageing and the baby boomer generation are now all over 50, so common sense tells us that unless employers change their mindset and embrace older workers, they will be recruiting from a very small pool of candidates and ignoring a cohort of experienced and willing workers (read about the 89 year old in the UK who found a job for fear of dying of boredom).

The Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway movie, The Intern, deals with the issue of a 70 year old widower joining an online fashion business with the message that older workers have something to offer in the new economy, despite preconceived ideas to the contrary.  But this preconception permeates many companies who are closed to the idea of employing older people.

So, regardless of what you think of President Trump or Hillary Clinton, the fact that both of them fought hard to win the presidency (a job with a four year term with a possible four more years if re-elected) that comes with little time for rest, deserves credit.  I hope Australian employers can take confidence from this that older people have the capacity to work hard in complex jobs and can add enormous value.

Ben Walsh – General Manager; Recruitment

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