Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Mature age workers key to shortages

With acute labour shortages continuing as a major barrier to retail recovery, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) is supporting calls to allow employment income to be exempt from the Age Pension income test, allowing pensioners to supplement their income and alleviating long-standing staff shortages.

ARA CEO Paul Zahra says there are over 29,000 job vacancies in the retail industry.

“We are in the tightest labour market in more than 50 years and without the usual numbers of overseas workers and students, these gaps won’t be filled using traditional recruitment methods,” he says.

“Retail has always been a powerfully diverse employment sector and we need to think more creatively about how we can mobilise new segments of our Australian workforce such as mature age workers and pensioners.”

Proposed exemption

Mr Zahra says making changes that exempt employment income from the Age Pension income test going forward would benefit everyone:

“It provides pensioners with the opportunity to supplement their income if they wish, retailers with access to a willing and capable workforce to assist amid ever-present labour shortages, and the wider economy with a more empowered pension group that will be mobilised to spend by newfound employment opportunities,” he said.

“We already have existing training programs that would support these individuals to quickly mobilise their skills into frontline retail positions, and with the commitment of many of Australia’s largest retail employers to prioritise this training and employment we could see a solution in place within a few months,”

Prioritising change

The ARA is calling on the proposed change to be a priority for the Federal government immediately following the election.

“Should the new government enact this considered change, a new workforce of pensioners can be unlocked and able to choose work that suits them in an economy that desperately needs their efforts,” Mr Zahra says.

“We can’t have an economic recovery without a retail recovery and skills shortages along with supply chain challenges are enormous constraints on this segment of our economy.

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