Smart training for the older entrepreneur

Document Type

Conference Proceeding


International Council for Small Business


Faculty of Business and Public Management


School of Management




Webster, B. J., & Walker, E. A. (2005). Smart training for the older entrepreneur. Proceedings of ISCB World Conference. Washington. International Council for Small Business.Conference website available here.


The ageing of the Australian population is guaranteed and more significantly the number of years of employment and the economic consequences related to the risk of long term unemployment and premature retirement. Approximately one third of Australians between the ages of 50 and 64 rely on some form of social security payment and nearly one half of these do not have paid employment. As stated by the Federal Treasurer Peter Costello in February 2004 few older Australians have access to sufficient retirement funds placing a substantial burden on the economy. Considering the significant proportion of people in this group, the lack of participation in the labour force from this sector, either voluntary or forced, presents the Australian economy with significant financial and social challenges. Increasing the participation rate of older persons in the labour force makes clear economic sense and one strategic option is to encourage self-employment or small business ownership. Small business account for 96 percent of the Australian private sector, non-agricultural businesses and they employ 47 percent of people in this sector and hence small business is significant to the Australian economy. It is known from previous studies that older people are more likely to succeed in small business than other sectors of the business population however the eventual sustainment and possible growth is dependent on certain variables. This paper presents a conceptual framework for the participation of older persons in the labour force which includes those factors and interrelationships that influence the outcomes for self-employment through small business ownership.