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BUSINESSES should turn to the internet, retirees and students to boost their workforce skills shortage.

That’s according to a report from professional services firm Deloitte.

It said the global demand for our mineral resources, coupled with the looming surge in retirees at a time when Australia has tightened its immigration policies, will create a “perfect storm” that will further shrink the pool of skilled workers over the next few years.

It urged business to respond early to seize “unrealised labour potential” and not wait for governments to act.

The report Where Is Your Next Worker? proposed 12 “levers” businesses could pull to boost their workforce capacity – including doing better with what they already have.

Deloitte’s SA managing partner Rob DiMonte said SA faced a bigger struggle for skilled workers than other states because of an ageing population, coupled with net interstate migration and lower productivity, and “we have to arrest all of that”.

He added companies looking to boost staff and productivity often got stuck on a handful of obvious strategies and the report offered a combined “suite of opportunities”.

The strategies in the report include “crowd sourcing” solutions to problems – that is, tapping into expert communities through the web or outsourcing work to a virtual workforce, for example through sites such as 99designs and eLance.

Over the next five years, the ratio of retirees to graduates will be the worst (highest) on record.

The report said companies can get in early to secure the best graduates by offering students work placements, internships or similar and using them strategically to do work that would be outsourced.

It even suggests employing senior students as “reverse mentors” for older workers.

It said companies with workers on “cruise control” could lift productivity – without hiring more staff – just by creating a more “engaged” workforce.

“Every 7.5 workers who put in five hours of extra discretionary effort a week effectively negate the need for an additional worker,” the report said.

“Each percentage point increase in efficiency can reduce Australia’s workforce challenge by a percentage point (and adds) $14 billion to the productive power of the nation.”

Businesses need to retain or redeploy older workers as well as provide clear career progression plans for talented young employees.

It urged companies to “confront discrimination in their ranks” and consider disabled applicants, indigenous and migrant workers, who may have appropriate skills even if they haven’t worked in comparable jobs.

The paper, the first in a series under the theme “Building the Lucky Country”, also proposes offshoring or “relocating jobs” to low-cost regional centres, flexible arrangements to retain women with caring responsibilities and staff considering retirement, and productive ICT improvements.

Website Search everywhere for staff News Nov 2011

The Reinvent Your Career Team would like to thank News Limited where this article first appeared

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