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IT employers least likely to recruit 'mature' workers

IT employers least likely to recruit 'mature' workers

The IT&T sector is the least proactive in attracting and retaining mature-aged workers, despite the nation's rapidly ageing workforce and growing skills shortage, according to the latest Hudson report survey.

The survey of 8345 employers across Australia shows that only 32.3 percent of employers in the IT sector and 23.8 percent in the telecomms sector are actively seeking to attract and retain mature-aged workers.

The IT industry is the least inclined of all sectors to tap this pool of talent. In other industries, 46.9 percent of financial and insurance firms, 45.1 percent of professional services, and 44.3 percent of government all make recruiting mature-aged workers a priority. The other sectors surveyed were wholesale and distribution, construction, engineering and property, and advertising, marketing and media.

Martin Retschko, director of IT&T at Hudson, said IT&T employers should take serious note of these findings or risk losing competitive advantage. He said the industry is very short-term in its thinking and focused on skills that are immediately in demand.

"There is an ageing workforce that has a wealth of knowledge and experience, but their skills may not be the ones that are immediately in demand," he said.

"Some of these workers are being left behind because of a lack of training and development and lack of thinking ahead about where the skills of tomorrow might be."

Retschko suggests employers should start looking at their recruitment forecasts alongside the projects they need to deliver over the next six to 12 months, and look at how they can use the resources they already have onboard.

Retaining mature aged staff is important, Retschko says, not only to keep the corporate knowledge, but also to retain mentors and coaches in the workplace which adds value to newer staff members.

Introducing flexible working options such as teleworking, job sharing and part-time work are the main ways to retain the older generation of workers, Retschko said.

"There is still a fair bit of churn within the IT&T sector and these initiatives would slow that down," he said.

ACS vice president Catherine Jaktman said older workers should be viewed as valuable assets to any organization, adding it is critical that the industry embraces the opportunities to retain skilled workers.

"Older IT workers provide the experience of working on challenging IT projects. They also know how to build successful teams of ICT people to deliver to a client," she said.

The IT&T industry is always going through changes with advancement and take-up of new technology. Employers often look to new graduates as being more creative, often forgetting that it is the older workers who have experience with implementing technology changes."

Jaktman suggests employers should be offering more flexible working conditions to mature workers, allowing a work-life balance.

"Mobile phone and broadband developments in particular mean working from home has never been easier. An increase in the use of teleworking will allow people currently inhibited from participating in the workforce due to family responsibilities, age or disabilities, to offer their skills to the Australian economy."

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