23 May 2011

Cracks appearing in Australia's workforce

Australia is sitting on a workforce fault-line, with the cracks in our society starting to appear this year.

Leading Australian demographer Bernard Salt made the observation at State Training Providers Forum in Perth recently.

“The first of the baby boomers, those born in 1946, will start retiring this year,” said Salt.

“What’s going to happen when a large group of tradespeople from this demographic start disappearing almost on en masse? The loss of so many skilled people is going to have a profound impact on from the workforce.”

Salt thinks big and is concerned about issues and trends from a national perspective, giving forum participants plenty to consider when planning for the future.

While training issues weren’t the focus of his keynote address, he referred to some occupations that were under threat.

“Five years ago, more than a third of the nurses in Australia were over 50, so they could decide to leave any time soon,” Salt said.

“The same scenario applies to religious ministers, across all faiths. In 2006, 48 per cent of them were over 50.

“These are just random occupations in the Census. What we should be doing is having this data for all occupations so we can better plan for workforce needs.”

While workforce shortages will rise rapidly, Salt believes there is some hope to halt the sudden loss in labour.

“The federal government will, I hope, do something drastic and allow a large influx of skilled overseas labour, but there also needs to be a reinvention of what we consider retirement to be,” Salt said.

“We need to tap into the narrative of how people want to live their lives. These days people can look forward on average to 20 years of what could be considered retirement.

“But people don’t want to simply stay home and look after the grandkids. They still want challenges. Then there’s those boomers haven’t saved enough, so they have to work beyond traditional working age.

“The skill will be to help them find new niches. This could be through short courses and other incentives for them to remain in the workforce.”

Australia vulnerable to a "desperate" world, says Salt

Western Australia could find itself at the centre of growing international tension over its mineral wealth. And governments aren’t prepared.

Leading Australian demographer Bernard Salt made the prediction at a forum of WA Vocational Educational Trainers recently.

“The world wants and needs what we have, and there’s going to be a made scramble for all of these things,” Salt said.

“We have what the world wants. That makes us valuable, but also vulnerable.”

Alarmingly, the scramble will come sooner than later.

“Most people are predicting this will happen around 2070, but I think it will come by 2020,” said Salt, who was addressing 200 VET industry representatives in a forum sponsored by the Department of Workforce Training and Development.

“For me, this is the biggest issue facing Australia, and governments are doing nothing about it.

“Look at where our military presence is. We have Lavarack Barracks in Townsville. It was built in the sixties. What’s it protecting now? We have Robertson Barracks in Darwin, which was expanded during the East Timor crisis.

“But there’s no military assets of note between Darwin and Perth – an area that contains pretty much all of Australia’s wealth – about $43 million worth of gas and oil.

“The Chinese have already demonstrated they need the raw materials. Gorgon was about China shoring up its assets.”

Salt was quietly scathing of government inaction, saying while we had aligned ourselves militarily with the US, we expect our financial support to come from China.

“China is now the emerging power, but it remains to be seen how governments deal with the dilemma.”

Salt called for a massive boost to infrastructure, including a larger military presence with at least 5000 soldiers, and a regional town of 150,000.

“It only makes sense to put the military hardware where you are most exposed.

“This is the biggest issue confronting us.”

19 May 2011

Parliament will run full course

There's no way federal parliament won't go the distance. The Independents will, by and large, back the government, because they know they're "on a hiding" in an election.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

06 May 2011

RSL stance baffling

The Returned Services Leage in Western Australia continues its "no-comment" policy with regard to the issue of killed in action SAS members not being allowed to have their names inscribed on the War Memorial. This is a baffling stance.

By not saying anything, the RSL shows how out of touch it is on two fronts. Firstly, the non-reponse shows how ill-equipped it is to deal with the media, which is hardly surprising, given the age of the executive. And, of course, it has already demonstrated how intractable it is, and has again rejected a move to change the rules, despite a survey by The West Australian showing that the majority of RSL sub-branches support the widows.

From a PR perspective, the RSL is now on a hiding. The public's views are now firmly entrenched and behind the widows and the RSL has lost its chance to at least appear sympathetic and understanding.

04 May 2011

Maybe Twitter not so popular

In setting up next semester’s “e-PR” unit for students the the University of Notre Dame Australia (Fremantle), I have created a google group, blog and twitter account. The students will use google as a hub to conduct a range of activities, including surveys and blogs.

In setting up Twitter I have grabbed some of the peope I’m already following from another account. In an effort to inject more local “content” (more Perth PR practitioners) I searched google for “Perth public relations”. In the first two pages of results, 10 companies were listed (not including paid ads).

To my surprise, only two companies mentioned on their web site they had a twitter presence. Given all the hype about the medium as a communications tool, I found this strange. I now feel a survey coming on. But I’ll save it for class.

About Me

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The PR Lab is a consultancy, specialising on research, reputation management, social media, media relations and the development of measurable strategies that produce results. It is run by Dr Greg Smith, a former journalist and PR professional. Greg worked on daily newspapers in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth. He held senior PR positions in the Australian Defence Force, Sydney Olympics and national not-for-profits. He has also lectured in PR at Edith Cowan University and the University of Notre Dame Australia.