Innovation in the Labour Market – Where is your next Worker?

- February 23, 2012 3 MIN READ

Over the past decade we’ve experienced both growth and slowing in our economy, which has obviously influenced demand for labour at different periods of time. There is no doubt that at the beginning of 2012, there is increasing uncertainty in the market place, driven largely by the Euro crisis and the media’s continued focus on areas of doom and gloom. A decline in unemployment reported last week caught everyone off guard.

Is this pessimistic outlook causing us to miss opportunities and celebrate success?

Australia now has more people working and contributing to the economy than ever before. We also have seen an increase in the number of actively trading businesses in Australia, which grew by 3.6% in 2009-10 and 0.4% in 2010-11 according to figures released in January by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). This is due to an increase in new business registrations, as well as a decline in the exit rate of businesses.

These results suggest that as a working nation we are not only engaged but enterprising.

While unemployment is predicted to rise over the course of 2012, the demand for skilled labour across certain industries will remain. The fight for talent is already happening and if we take a long term view of only 12 months, many organisations may struggle to attract talent when the need arises.

While labour force growth and participation has only increased over the last 50 years (4102.0 – Australian Social Trends, Dec 2011), we are about to enter a period where workforce exits will exceed workforce entries. Over the past decade the concept of an “Employer of Choice” has gained momentum as a marketing tactic for talent during times of labour scarcity.  When you pry further into this statement though, what does it actually mean? Some organisations profess to promoting work/life balance, diversity and a focus on corporate social responsibility.

But do employees really value this? While maybe they once did, has this statement now become a rubber stamp with many of these initiatives just expected in todays leading organisations. When we talk about innovative companies it is often in reference to how they solve a problem or approach an opportunity. Rarely do we hear of it with regards to recruitment practices. Yet people and the knowledge they bring is often the most important asset to an organisation.

So where is the next opportunity for organisations to tap into talent?

While the naughties were all about Gen Y, the next decade will see the rise of the mature worker for two reasons.

Firstly, organisations in some instances won’t have a choice but to look at this audience with the 45-54 age bracket being the fastest growing labour market segment in Australia. Currently there are 7 million people in Australia aged over 50, with 24,000 people turning 50 each month.

Secondly, organisations are becoming aware of the benefits and importance of reflecting your customer base in your workforce. The over 50s market control 60% of all wealth, have more disposable income then any other age group, own their own homes, spend more on travel, entertainment, white goods, gardening, new cars, furniture, food and beverages, with over 78% now owning their own computer (50 Up).

Baby Boomers have played a significant part in history of which we have not yet seen the true impact.

The benefits of hiring mature workers are well documented (lower turnover, higher productivity, lower absenteeism, more reliable) yet there is still a reluctance to recruit from this market.

Surprisingly, or not, the organisations who are planning and trialing initiatives aimed at engaging and attracting this market are from industries which promote skills typically perceived to be an area of weakness amongst mature age workers. Think IBM and Apple who are both acutely aware of the importance of this market and adapting their business in different ways to reflect this audiences unique needs both as employees and customers.

One thing that is for certain, is that the uncertainty we are currently experiencing in the job market will not last forever and those that fail to plan for the eventual return to growth, will be left behind in the ongoing quest for talent.





Adage.com.au is Australia’s leading job board for the mature age market. We help connect these jobseekers with employers who value maturity and experience.

However, we are evolving to be more than just a job board…

Adage is Australia’s fastest growing online community for this neglected and powerful audience.

Adage provides a range of platforms and channels for organisations to recruit, communicate and engage directly with this market. Whether it is a job placement or a helpful tip, we are committed to building a space which people enjoy coming to therefore we welcome any feedback you may have at support@adage.com.au.

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