I’ve spent the past four months looking for a job. It’s a demoralising, dispiriting venture.
Experience counts for nothing. Especially when you are over 50. This could be just a rant from one individual, except I keep meeting other over 50s, especially women, who are underemployed, unemployed or desperately hanging on to a job to accumulate enough superannuation to retire with the ability to eat and keep a roof over their head.
Ageism exists, age discrimination exists.
Employers are not allowed to discriminate by age but they do by requiring a “recent graduate” or “university degree is mandatory”. Trust me, I’ve been reading the job ads on seek.com.au for four months. I’ve had one interview in four months. I’ve begun calling any employer or recruiter that insists on a university degree. Today I asked a recruiter why their client would insist on a degree over experience. She could not answer my question. I cannot ask them, because they are not identified in the ad.
It is an ad for a communications manager that I could do with my eyes closed, but I do not have a degree because when I finished high school people who wanted to be journalists mostly went and completed a cadetship.
I have worked for The Sydney Morning Herald. I have been an adviser to four Federal politicians. I was the media relations and communications manager for a leading industry group.
Today our Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison gave some bizarre interviews about the Budget where he said he was not going to sell the Australian people a unicorn. Huh?
I have no idea what this means, but at my daughter’s school the logo is the Unicorn which is referenced as a symbol of grace, strength and beauty with its horn reaching towards a star of enlightenment.
The school is named after Alfred Deakin, the second Prime Minister of Australia. It is 6km from Australian Parliament House.
There are students from 67 cultures, including students from the embassy families that make up the Canberra community.
The children at this school are proud of their school and their school community. They have an amazing group of teachers and they are told that they can do anything they want to in their lives. The academic, cultural and sporting traditions of the school are way beyond anything I experienced at a country high school in the 1970s, so I would expect that things have improved. What I didn’t expect all those years ago when I won a cadetship on the Nambucca Guardian News was that the media would be reshaped entirely and so many of my very experienced and talented colleagues would be made redundant by the organisations that had nurtured them and exploited their commitment for decades.
But here we all are. I have been studying art and learning to paint as I have a dream to run an art gallery by the sea in my dotage. A sort of Margaret Olley retirement where I fill my house with interesting stuff and paint it and sell paintings. If I achieve 1/1000th of the recognition she did I will be happy.
For now I read the job ads and despair. I am not a recent graduate of anything except a long-term romance that resulted in two children and two houses and ended.
I’m a single mother of a boy who is about to join the Australian Army and a girl who is in Year 10 and doing the very best she can to make her family and her teachers proud.
I want to work and have been doing some freelance media consultancy and working in a friend’s art gallery for a bit of cash.
Luckily my bank (which bank?) is extremely understanding and has given me a bit of a holiday on mortgage repayments.
I’ve been a worker and a taxpayer all my life but I’m stumped by recent events. And every other day I meet another Australian who is over 50 and unable to find work. They try to invent their own jobs or start a business or whatever it is they do to keep the wolves from the door.
And our Federal Treasurer is talking about unicorns.