So that was 2022. As most companies return to work in post-restriction Australia, the conflict about the office's role between business leaders and employees is growing and generating tension. The hybrid model will continue to be a central part of work for the foreseeable future and companies that are not understanding how vital flexibility has become are losing staff. Approximately one in three managers have lost or risk losing team members over their flexibility policies.
Whilst companies continue to adapt to this way of work, workplaces are also facing another challenge with inflation worries which is putting pressure on employers to provide inflation-based salary increases or risk losing talented employees.
says RMIT Online interim CEO, Claire Hopkins. We sat down with two of RMIT Online’s leaders to find out what has been some of the challenges that workplaces have faced over the last year.
Claire Hopkins | Interim CEO RMIT Online
What challenges did the Australian workforce face in 2022 in regards to talent shortages, skills gaps and hiring pressures?
After two turbulent years adapting to new ways of working through the pandemic, many thought 2022 would be an easier year as freedoms returned. However, 2022 provided rough waters on new fronts, including The Great Resignation, big question marks over the role of the office and managing business confidence in light of significant economic factors such as rising inflation and low unemployment in the jobs landscape.
Many companies were more open to fast-tracking careers or hiring professionals with fewer years experience which created tensions with existing employees who felt their new colleagues didn’t have the skills for their new role.
How can organisations help address these challenges in the workforce 2023?
Our research told us that employers needed to be doing two things - make sure they were putting the appropriate support around new hires to get them up to speed quickly (training, coaching) and ensuring their employee proposition valued all employees (new and existing) through market-aligned remuneration, on the job training or formal training, and opportunities to progress within their company.
What other challenges do you see ahead for Australian businesses in 2023 and beyond as we emerge from the covid recovery phase?
It will be interesting to see the impact of recent Government initiatives to address critical skills shortages – definitely a step in the right direction and love that they’re opening up funding for new educational pathways for upskilling and reskilling outside of a traditional university degree. Still feels like there will be uncertainty post-pandemic – having seen many tech companies that were in growth mode now switching the focus from revenue to profitability.
Julian Stevenson | Product and Workforce Development Director
What challenges are facing Australia’s workforce in 2022 and 2023 in terms to skill gaps? What is the best way to address these gaps?
With the ongoing longtail impacts of border closures, low unemployment and a massively disrupted workforce, the biggest challenge for workforces is to take a broader, longer term and more holistic view to skills gaps rather than aiming for quick fixes.
It’s easy for employers to jump to solutions around workforce development, for example “we need everyone to be data-driven”. But success will only come, if the approach to addressing skills gaps is linked to the overarching business objectives, which will ensure businesses see measurable impact of their investment in workforce development AND will drive engagement for employees, through meaningful impact and career progression.
Whose responsibility is it to upskill? Is it the employees, businesses or government?
Within the workforce, employees and businesses need to take a shared responsibility to upskill. Employers need to provide a robust and meaningful framework for their upskilling programs, linked to visible and meaningful impact for both the business, and for the individual employees. Employees need to demand structured and impactful learning and development, and tie the value of upskilling back to their current and future career. The key link here is managers and leaders. Managers need to value the impact and outcomes of upskilling in the workforce – look for talent from within the organisation first, rather than see it as an inconvenience to reskill from within. Employers and leaders supporting multi-faceted approaches to upskilling, both formal and on the job experiential learning, will be key to success.
Governments have a critical role to play in a number of areas – providing guidance and backing for new ways of addressing and recognising skills (e.g. through a robust framework for micro-credentials), along with support for deeper Industry collaboration with education providers is key to success. As the world embraces more flexible and evolving ways of assessing, verifying and representing skills, Governments need to provide confidence and backing to ensure individuals and businesses have a common language to represent lifelong learning skills and qualifications.