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The Silver Workforce: How retirees can solve labour market challenges

12 minute read

Asuria Executive Chairman, Con Kittos recently shared his expert opinion of how retired individuals could hold the answers to solving Australia's Staff shortages.  


New Ai Group research shows that Staff shortages in Australia are getting worse. According to their  Australian CEO Survey, 90% of businesses expect to be affected by staffing shortages in 2023.

Having spent the last 30 years helping governments in various countries around the world solve labour  market problems, one of the potential solutions to this issue is to encourage retired individuals to re-enter the workforce. 

Con Kittos, Executive Chairman at AsuriaCon Kittos,Executive Chairman, Asuria

Retired individuals can play an essential role in addressing labour market shortages. As the population  ages, many countries need more skilled workers. With their years of experience and expertise, retired  individuals can fill this gap in the labour market. While some might initially be sceptical about  encouraging retirees to work, there are several compelling reasons why it could benefit both  individuals and the economy: 

Firstly, they often have a wealth of knowledge and experience that can be valuable to employers. They may have specialised skills in high demand, or they may be able to mentor and train younger employees. It is essential to leverage their expertise and knowledge to help drive growth and development in different sectors:

  1. Education: Retired individuals with years of experience in teaching ortraining could provide a valuable resource in the education industry. They can serve as substitute teachers, mentor new teachers, or develop a curriculum.
  2. Healthcare: Retired healthcare professionals can provide valuable support to the healthcare industryby providing volunteer services, mentoring new healthcare professionals, or serving as patient advocates.
  3. Non-profits: Retirees can contribute to non-profit organisations by providing valuable skills and experience in fundraising, strategic planning, and volunteer management.
  4. Government: Retirees can contribute to government agencies by serving as advisors or consultants on policy development, program implementation, and other areas where their expertise is needed.
  5. Business: Retired business executives canprovide valuable mentoring and coaching to new entrepreneurs, startups, and small businesses.

Secondly, retired individuals may be more flexible in their work arrangements since they may not need to work full-time or be willing to work part-time or on a project basis. This can be particularly beneficial for employers who need to fill short-term or seasonal positions.   

While retired individuals often have a wealth of experience, knowledge, and skills to bring to the workforce, there are, of course, some challenges associated with hiring retired individuals, such as availability conflicts due to commitments and interests, physical limitations stemming from age or health issues; skill gaps if specialised training or knowledge is required in specific industries; and, unfortunately, sometimes even age discrimination.  

Based on my understanding of these hurdles, I present some ideas on how retired individuals can overcome them. 

  • Focus on skills and experience: They could consider obtaining additional training or certification in their field to stay up-to-date with industry changes.
  • Look for age-friendly employers: They could seek out companies that value older workers and have policies to combat age discrimination.
  • Consider flexible work arrangements: Retirees could look for part-time or seasonal jobs that offer flexible scheduling, allowing them to work around other commitments.
  • Connect with others: Networking is essential for finding job opportunities and getting a foot in the door. They could consider joining local professional organisations or networking groups to make connections and learn about job openings.

Now, let’s discuss what employers could do. Employers must be sensitive to these issues and prepared to make accommodations where necessary. 

  • Reach out to retired professionals: Businesses and organisations can start by identifying retired professionals with the necessary skills and experience. They can reach out to them through professional networks, industry associations, or personal connections.
  • Create a flexible work environment: Retired individuals may not want to work full-time or commit to long-term projects. Businesses and organisations can offer them a relaxed work environment that allows them to work on short-term projects or consult on a part-time basis.
  • Provide training and support: Retired individuals may need to update their skills or learn new technologies to be effective in consulting or freelance work. Businesses and organisations can provide training and support to help them get up to speed.
  • Offer competitive compensation: Retired individuals may not be motivated by the same financial incentives as younger workers. However, businesses and organisations should still offer competitive salaries for their services.
  • Create a positive work culture: Retired individuals may be more motivated by the opportunity to work on meaningful projects and contribute to a positive work culture. Businesses and organisations should create a work culture that values diversity, inclusion, and collaboration.

By implementing these strategies, businesses and organisations can better engage retired individuals in consulting or freelance work and tap into a valuable source of expertise and experience.  

Overall, retired individuals have an essential role in addressing labour market shortages. By tapping into their skills and experience, employers can fill critical positions and help to ensure that their businesses continue to thrive. At the same time, retired individuals can enjoy the opportunity to continue working and stay engaged in the workforce. 

For many, returning to work could provide a sense of purpose and fulfilment. After years of dedicating their lives to their careers, retirement can often be a difficult transition. Many retirees find that they need to understand the sense of structure and routine that comes with a job, as well as the social interaction that comes with working alongside colleagues. By re-entering the workforce, retirees can stay active and engaged, both mentally and socially.  

Encouraging retirees to work can also benefit the broader economy. As the population ages, there will be an increasing strain on pension and healthcare systems. Retirees can continue contributing to the economy and reducing the burden on these systems by being employed. In addition, if labour shortages are not addressed, it could negatively impact economic growth, so encouraging retirees to work can help mitigate this issue. 

About Asuria 

For over 20 years, Asuria has been a leading employment service provider, supporting thousands of people each year in getting and keeping a job they love. We also work with employers to provide expert recruitment support at no cost. With Asuria, you will always see a new approach to delivering human services as we are a people business that beats to an Enterprising Heart.

To find out more about how Asuria can support you, click here. 

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