Mature-age graduates usually bring with them breadth and depth of experience, confidence and commitment. And with the ageing New Zealand work force, there has never been a better time to hire older graduates.
But what are the advantages of hiring mature-age graduates?
1. Mature-age graduates are loyal
SEEK research has found that Millennials and older graduates are similar in the way they search for jobs, in that both groups tend to search online and through job boards. However, there are some differences in what these two groups are looking for in a position, so it’s helpful for hirers to understand these differences so they can shape their offer accordingly.
“Millennials are the highest adopters of technology so tend to need that constant stimulation and opportunity to build on their skills, and if they don’t get it they are likely to leave a job in order to find it,” says Shanyn Payne, the executive director of Human Resources for Swinburne Online. Older graduates, however, are not quite as focused on career progression. For the most part, mature-age graduates are in a life stage where family and financial commitments are driving their decision-making. A recent SEEK study found that the top drivers for older graduates were job security (14.8%) and work-life balance (14.5%).
This translates into a work environment where mature-age workers tend to be more settled and loyal. “Older graduates are generally more secure and less likely to drop everything and travel overseas indefinitely,” says Graham Doessel, the CEO of MyCRA Lawyers. “They generally have life commitments that keep them steady, and have ideas and enthusiasm from having seen other places, cultures and ways of the world.”
2. They have transferrable skills
Mature-age graduates often bring years of experience and knowledge to the workplace. As individuals who have built up different skills over time, they are better positioned to solve a variety of workplace problems, says Payne.
“We recently had a student graduate who worked as a paediatric nurse for 15 years running health education classes in schools,” says Payne. This sparked a passion for teaching and so the student undertook a Master of Teaching (Primary) with Swinburne Online. “When this student looks for jobs, she becomes a much stronger candidate as she can add more value to the classroom setting due to her past experiences in education,” says Payne.
3. Mature-age graduates are focused
“Mature-age students tend to have more responsibilities than a traditional school leaver,” says Academic Director of Swinburne Online, Sue Kokonis. Swinburne Online’s students have an average age of 33 years, and according to Kokonis this means they tend to be more realistic and motivated.
“By this age many students have family commitments or are working and they decide to study for a specific reason, like re-joining the work force, to change their career or progress in a profession,” says Kokonis. “Studying with this kind of intent and added responsibility tends to make mature-age students more focussed on reaching a goal.”
Many mature-age graduates have also had the time to decide what they want to do with their career and to pursue a new employment path that they are passionate about. “This leads to more motivated, engaged and higher performing employees,” says Payne.
4. Older graduates have new ways of looking at old problems
Lisa Bourke, Marketing and Communications Manager at House Call Doctor, has seen firsthand the benefits of hiring older graduates. House Call Doctor recently employed Emma Brooke, an employee with a background in finance. Despite holding a team leadership position within one of Australia’s big four banks, Brooke had a keen interest in marketing and decided to retrain.
Within her marketing role at House Call Doctor, Brooke has a wealth of life experience that means she is confident communicating with stakeholders and has innovative ideas. “Only recently, Emma suggested changes to our current KPI tracking system that allows House Call Doctor to more effectively monitor communication with individual patients and communities,” says Bourke. “These changes were then integrated by all the junior members of our marketing team.”
5. Older graduates are technologically savvy
It’s a common myth that mature workers cannot adapt to new technology. Kokonis says this misconception is routinely dispelled as she sees mature-age students embrace online study. “Online students engage with different technology everyday including live conferencing, social media, video and email,” she says. “These are fundamental requirements to pass online education courses, which quickly busts any misconceptions around older people and technology.”