Employers are being urged to think outside the square with regard to future employees, with a new report outlining the severity of Australia’s skills shortages and the action that must be taken.
According to a Deloitte report titled Where is your next worker?, the world is “begging” Australia to grow faster, particularly in light of the resources boom.
“At the same time, Australia has adopted policies that have seen migration rates fall noticeably. We did so just ahead of the biggest surge in retiree numbers this nation has ever seen,” it said.
According to Deloitte, these factors will combine to create “a perfect storm” as the demand for labour exceeds supply, so businesses must find innovative ways to access skills and labour.
“Those businesses that respond early to the coming skills crunch will be best placed to flourish,” the report said.
Deloitte outlines future talent pools for businesses to consider:
Your next worker is still being educated
Get SmartCompany FREE to your inbox every weekday
The number of students exiting education is projected to stay stagnant through to the early 2020s, according to the report.
As businesses scours the country for talent, that suggests a good place to look will be universities, TAFEs and even senior high school classes.
Your next worker is in the crowd
Companies can access workers outside their organisation and outside their national borders.
In this way, they are using people who are not employees of any description – they are simply the right people for the task, sourced from “the crowd”.
Using crowdsourcing and other innovative approaches, Australia can fill many skill gaps by going online, without having to search the world for skilled migrants.
Your next worker is overseas
The report encourages businesses to “urgently assess” what work they can offshore to maintain and enhance their global competitiveness.
Australia cannot compete with wage costs in developing countries.
Offshoring offers particularly significant opportunities for rapidly expanding or emerging industries, such as the Australian energy sector.
Your next worker is waiting for a visa
Many skilled tasks can’t be done offshore; they need to be done by workers here in Australia.
However, Australia’s training and education system won’t be able to produce the number of skilled workers we need over the next few years in time to support our projected growth.
We need skilled migrants to help fill the gap or Australia’s economy risks increasing inflationary pressure over the next two years.
Your next worker is retired or about to retire
Mature-age workers are typically the most experienced and reliable employees. They have the lowest turnover, the fewest sick days and the best safety record.
When a mature-age worker leaves a business, their deep industry knowledge, market experience and sometimes irreplaceable technical expertise leaves with them.
Older workers also have great potential to provide valuable mentoring to other workers. In addition, their departure often means longstanding clients take their business elsewhere.
Your next worker is juggling work and family
According to the report, most companies see flexible hours, part-time work and non-paid leave during school holidays as inconsistent with managerial and executive demands.
Retaining women under flexible work arrangements might include greater use of technologies, and outsourcing work to lower-cost cities or towns where workers want to raise their children.
Your next worker is interstate
Finding the right person for the job often depends as much on where they live as their abilities.
Physical and electronic mobility is vital to allow people to move to where employment is available or to work without having to move at all.
Your next worker has the ability
Many overlooked potential workers, including indigenous Australians and those with disabilities, could make a major contribution to solving the looming skill shortages.
Your next worker is not needed
According to Deloitte, national productivity has been declining since the late 1990s. Combined with skills shortages, this is spurring companies to find new and better ways to get work done.
Companies that boost productivity, by embracing technology and more efficient processes, can beat the skills crisis without having to join the struggle for workers.
Your next worker is in the mail room
Many businesses overlook the enormous potential of their own staff.
They can overlook the value of ongoing training and retraining to tap into workers in regions, occupations and industries where the growth outlook is more modest.
Your next worker is knocking on your door
Making better use of older workers is an important potential solution to the skills crisis.
However, organisations need to strike a careful balance between retaining older workers and providing opportunities for the next generation of leaders to ascend.
It will take leadership, succession plans and career strategies to keep younger employees from leaving their employers in frustration and disappointment.
Your next worker may currently be on cruise control
The performance of any organisation depends on having an engaged workforce.
Engaged employees are prepared to put discretionary effort into achieving organisational goals, become strong advocates for the company’s values and stick with a company for a long time.