Future looks bright for older workers

IAIN SCOTT
Last updated 12:00 12/03/2014

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Mature workers are set to play an increasingly important role in the future of the New Zealand labour market, Manawatu Mayor Margaret Kouvelis says.

"The number of young workers entering the labour market is falling, our population is ageing and people are staying in the workforce longer than they did previously," she said at UCOL's graduation ceremonies yesterday.

On the other hand, young New Zealanders would be more sought after, harder to find and more expensive to secure as "each cohort" of older workers retired and were replaced by "a successively smaller cohort of labour market entrants".

She told graduates the pace of change in every profession was speeding up, with 65 per cent of pre-school children today set to work in careers that have yet to be defined.

Palmerston North woman Brenda Wormgoor earned her degree despite challenges of adjusting to a new country, changing careers in her 40s and giving birth.

Mrs Wormgoor, who graduated with a Bachelor of Applied Visual Imaging at the Regent on Broadway yesterday, was one of more than 2000 people graduating from UCOL this week.

Formerly in marketing, she began studies at UCOL weeks after arriving in New Zealand from South Africa.

"I unexpectedly fell pregnant and had a little boy in the middle of the second semester of my second year," she said. "Although I managed to still do some papers, there were some papers that I couldn't complete because of that."

As a result, she spread the three-year degree over four years.

The same year she gave birth to Zac, she was named the top visual imaging student.

"It was a change of career, it was adjusting to living in a new country, and at my age having a little boy. I wouldn't say I'm feeling proud of myself. I'd rather say I'm thankful for the opportunity I had."

She said she would not have been able to complete her studies without the support of her husband Shohn, a senior lecturer at UCOL.

"It is quite tough being an immigrant and not having any immediate support structure, so it was kind of just the two of us."

Two UCOL Council awards were conferred at yesterday morning's ceremony.

Furniture designer Noel Brown was awarded an honorary fellowship for outstanding contribution to the community and InspireNet founder James Watts was awarded and honorary associate for significant and distinguished contribution to the wider community.

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- Manawatu Standard

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