Could we see barista and other hospitality courses designed for the over 60s? The answer in the Bega Valley is probably, because that's who employers are hoping to entice back to the workplace.
One solution to Bega Valley's "wicked problem" of labour shortages could be to embrace older workers, HR consultant Kelly Maher of Resources for Humans told a tourism networking event at the Merimbula RSL Club.
Ms Maher has dissected the 2021 Census statistics for the shire and found that we are 13 years older at 52 years than the NSW median, age, 29 per cent are over 65, our median personal income at $645, is $168 less than the NSW median, there is 2.7 per cent unemployment (the national rate is 3.5 per cent), 367 people are underemployed and there are somewhere between 663 and 1000 job vacancies.
Ms Maher said employers were struggling to find enough staff to open their doors. But she said people were getting stuck on the problems and had to work with the situation.
We have to create workplaces where older people see themselves as part of the workforce.- HR consultant Kelly Maher
She believes that some of the older cohort in the shire could be enticed back into the workforce even if just for a day a week or a couple of shifts a week, especially as there are financial concessions which allow those on an aged pension to earn an additional $4000 in a year before it affects their pension. Also the extra sum can be earnt over a short time, such as the summer season.
"Community spirit comes out in a crisis and we are in a crisis. We have to create workplaces where older people see themselves as part of the workforce," Ms Maher said.
There was further discussion of providing training such as RSA and barista courses aimed solely at the more mature workforce.
Robyn Johnson manager of skills and opportunities at the South Coast Centre of Excellence said they had received funding for hospitality and tourism. "Bega Valley is in an ideal place to pioneer getting older people back into the workforce and with benefit for everyone."
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