Australian companies worried about skills gap, says survey

by L&D02 Mar 2016
A whopping 95% of businesses are anticipating a skills gap due to the retirement of the baby boomer generation, according to a new survey by specialised recruitment company Robert Half.

Moreover, 92% of Australian finance leaders are concerned that the loss of baby boomers (those born between 1946-1964) will have a negative impact on their company over the next two years.

In response, 97% of finance leaders are taking measures to address the potential skills gap.

This includes commitments to invest in the next generation and supporting them through training and professional development programs (44%), mentoring programs (36%) and succession planning (29%).

David Jones, senior managing director Asia Pacific, said that in order for companies to maintain the expertise of their experienced employees, they must make talent management a priority.

"A thorough inventory of the core skills that organisations have in-house and the ones they will have to replace, is an important first step. Potential successors should subsequently be readied in time by targeted training and mentoring programs,” he said.

 “For the expertise that is not available internally, companies must look for new employees that possess the necessary skills and expertise. This means there will be new and additional job opportunities and companies are looking at both senior and less senior profiles to fill these roles.” 

Meanwhile, some companies are opting for external solutions and plan to recruit mid-level (38%) and senior-level (31%) employees who, via the necessary knowledge transfer, can be used by the company in the short term.

Jones added that baby boomers generally have extensive experience and specific skills that businesses wish to retain as long as possible.

“Offering interim or part-time contracts to employees nearing retirement can be an ideal way to keep the knowledge of baby boomers in the company, while at the same time offering the necessary flexibility,” he said.

Despite the official retirement age in Australia being 65, many baby boomers will continue to work for several years to come, Robert Half said.

Consequently, businesses are making efforts to attract and retain this generation on the workforce by improving their employee benefits (39%) or by offering flexible and/or part-time work arrangements (18%).