Ageing population, a forgotten crisis?

imageOur profession is going to be profoundly influenced by a force that we pay very little attention to.

A new report by the Economist on the state of global ageing paints a grim picture.  By 2050, one person in three in developed countries will be a pensioner.  The fiscal costs of dealing with an ageing population will dwarf any other expenditure governments incurred (Listen to an audio interview with Barbara Beck).

Closer to home, it is estimated that ‘the number of people aged 65 years will increase by 111 per cent between 2006 and 2036’.  ABS predicted that one in four Australians will aged 65 or over by  2056.  There are major implications – Retirement age will probably increase. Migration will not be nearly enough to fill the gap left by retiring personnel.  Skills shortage will be a major issue, with added pressure on educational institutions to provide a steady supply of talent. Workforce participation rate will have to increase. More women may have to join the workforce. Untapped talent pool have to mined. To compound the problem, people of working age are increasingly changing how they view work. One million of us are not interested to work full-time for others.  The workplace and the recruitment of staff as we know now will promises to be very different in the near future, not least because of the ageing population.

Our profession, of course, is in the thick of the problem. Given our very being is dictated by supply and demand dynamics of labour, the absence of attention on the population bomb is baffling. (The fifth Annual Australia’s Ageing Population Summit was held this month. Not a squeak from the media)

1 reply
  1. SuzyG
    SuzyG says:

    When you use the phrase “labor shortage” or “skills shortage” you’re speaking in a sentence fragment. What you actually have to say is: “There is a labor shortage at the salary level I’m willing to pay.” That statement is the correct phrase; the complete sentence, the intellectually honest statement.

    If you start raising your wages and improving working conditions, and continue to do so, eventually you’ll have people lining up around the block to work for you even if you need to have huge piles of steaming manure hand-scooped on a blazing summer afternoon.

    Re: Shortage due to retirees: With the majority of retirement accounts down about 50% or more, people entering retirement age are being forced to work well into their sunset years. So, you won’t be getting a worker shortage anytime soon due to retirees exiting the workforce.

    Okay, fine. Some specialized jobs require training and/or certification, again, raise your wages and improve benefits! You’ll incentivize people to self-fund their education so that they can enter the industry in a work-ready state. The attractive wages, working conditions and career prospects of technology during the 1980’s and 1990’s was a prime example of people’s willingness to fund their own education.


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