New data has revealed that despite the persistent skills crisis many employers are overlooking the capabilities of older Australians to help fill the gap in workforce skills.
The finding comes as the Federal Government’s Jobs Bonuses scheme for mature aged workers is poised for rollout from July 1. The scheme promises $1,000 to employers who provide a worker aged 50 or over with a job for at least three months.
The annual Australia’s Skills Gap survey, conducted by the Australian Institute of Management (AIM), canvassed the workplace practices of more than 1,500 Australian organisations. It was found that 77% of organisations have a gap in their workforce skills, yet few of these organisations are trying to fill the gap by utilising the experience of mature aged workers to mentor younger members of staff. Key statistics from the report included:
Just 3% of organisations with a skills gap use baby boomers in mentoring or coaching roles.
21% of surveyed organisations had programs in place to access the skill sets of retirees or former long-term workers.
Of those organisations that have avoided a skills gap, the most nominated reason was ‘a strong commitment to training and development’.
Similarly, for those organisations with a skills gap, ‘training and development’ was named as the number one solution to fix the problem.
The skills most lacking in Australian organisations were:
- Process and project management skills
- Technical and industry specific skills
- Communication/interpersonal skills
Overlooking older and experienced staff to fill a skills gap is nothing short of a ‘blindspot’ for HR, according to Susan Heron, CEO, AIM. “There’s a huge upside for our nation’s skills hungry employers if they can better tap into the experience and capabilities of older Australians,” Heron said. “When you consider the many millions of dollars that Australian organisations have collectively invested over the years in developing the skills of mature aged people, it’s clear they should be seeking a greater return on their investment.”
Mature aged Australians, whether they’re in the workforce or have retired in recent years, have a wealth of knowledge and job ‘know-how’ that can provide savvy employers with a competitive edge. Older Australians have also spent their whole careers developing a network of personal business contacts that can be used to advantage by an employer. Heron added that the skills crisis isn’t going anywhere and will be a long-term reality for Australian organisations because of the nation’s resources boom and ageing workforce.
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