Australia’s workforce participation rate is around record 67% percent. The participation rate is a calculation of the people aged between 15 and 64 as a percentage of the total population. In Australia, the participation rate means that there are approximately 2 people of working age to those outside working age, such as students and retirees.
What the participation rate does not tell you is the number of people outside the working age who are employed and those who have retired earlier than the age of 64. Economists calculate the unemployment rate, of willing workers not in work, as a percentage of the participation rate. As a percentage of the total population, people without jobs is an even smaller percentage – less than 2.5 percent. The participation rate also does not double count the percentage of people with more than one job. This statistic is also at a record high approaching 1 million workers.
For more than a decade, significant attention has been given to people in work but not getting the hours they desire. This group is said to be underemployed. They are typically in industries in decline or where jobs have been substituted for more efficient technology. In the latest ABS labour statistics for last December, the percentage of underemployed people has also declined to a record low of 6 percent. This, according to CEIC data, is down from near 15% in 2015. So, what does this mean?
Over the last 7 years, the Australian economy has gone through significant labour force changes. Baby boomers have been exiting the labour force, reducing the participation rate. People of working age have acquired the skills required by today’s employers. The economy has been sufficiently solid, despite Covid, to absorb more workers. Unemployment has fallen from around 6 percent in 2015 to 3.5 percent today.
Still, employers want more workers. On the surface, the statistics mentioned suggest that the hidden unemployed, due to an inability to find work, are no longer hidden. They appear to be reversing what became known as the ‘great resignation’, particularly amongst workers older than 50 years, during Covid. They are seeking to be a part of the ‘great rehire’, by employers.
Many candidates, however, have had cause to feel age-discriminated against. At the same time, youth unemployment is more than double that of the general population of working age. The four-point difference is equal to a fall from 92 to 88 percent of people aged between 15-24 in education since 2019. The post-covid opening of borders to foreign professional workers has capacity to make it difficult for workers seeking their first or last job.
Typically, employers will source foreign candidates with both experience and qualifications for specific role types. They, employers, are less likely to seek non-professional younger and older employees that require training, despite their having industry transferable skill sets. These candidates are available locally and present a great opportunity for small-to-medium size employers. But how do employers find these candidates, who are equally less likely to maintain LinkedIn profiles?
The website Workers to Hire (www.workerstohire.com.au) is the brainchild of entrepreneur and former university lecturer Michael Hargreaves for young, returning, and retired workers seeking part-time, contract, full-time, or voluntary work. Workers to Hire is an online ‘candidate board’, as opposed to ‘job board,’ where people outside the mainstream recruitment template post their skills and availability. They are the very workers who are unlikely to drive past a physical job board outside an employer workplace. As they are typically not career seekers they may not turn up in searches for LinkedIn for they types of roles that they have not considered.
With the ‘great rehire,’ and fall in underemployed workers, it appears that employers are prepared to meet changing expectations of workers. Workers to Hire gives candidates another way to present themselves.