The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has applauded the extension of the Federal Government scheme which will allow aged pensioners to earn an additional $4,000 without losing any of their payment entitlements. Introduced following the Jobs and Skills Summit as a once-off through July 2023, the scheme will now continue for a further six months until 31 December 2023.
ARA CEO Paul Zahra said encouraging older Australians into the workforce has been a key advocacy area for the ARA this year as the sector identifies solutions to the crippling labour shortages persisting across the industry.
“We appreciate the Government incentivising pensioners to increase their workforce participation – now until the end of 2023. This move is warmly welcomed and will encourage more mature age workers to commit for a longer period of work,” said Mr Zahra. “This scheme is a win all round – it allows pensioners to supplement their income, work extra hours if they wish, and help businesses plug some of the gaps in their workforce.”
“Retail is confronting a labour and skills crisis – there are more than 46,000 retail job vacancies with the ongoing effects of COVID-19 and skills shortages leading to the tightened labour market.
“Retail employs one in ten Australians and is one of the most diverse workforces. Many of the solutions to our current challenges focus on making work more accessible and available for those who want it. Some of the other quick win items out of the Jobs and Skills Summit included an increase to Australia’s migration cap, and a number of measures to help improve women’s workforce participation.
“The Government’s announced immigration review will also play an important role in combatting long-term vacancies and skill shortages. Reducing red tape around immigration was another pre-summit callout from the ARA and we welcome the additional funding that’s been confirmed to speed up visa processing times. We’re in a global race for talent and we need to ensure Australia is an attractive destination to work and visit.
“We’re also pleased to see commitments to supporting disability employment, ensuring there is access to meaningful and sustained work. The ARA continues to look for paths to welcoming anyone to the retail workplace, and ongoing Federal Government funded research with QUT surrounding young people with psychosocial disability will compliment Government led initiatives in this area.
There is evidence that shows customers’ perceptions of engaging with a diverse workforce brought about positive associations with the brand.
“The discussion around tech jobs and innovation and the importance of prioritising skills and training in this space is fundamental to our growth as a sector. The most pressing skills shortages for retail, and many other industries, are in data, digital and sustainability roles and we can’t be solely reliant on migrants to fill these positions. We need focus on upskilling and training the existing talent we have here now,” Mr Zahra said.
The ARAs submission to the Jobs and Skills Summit can be viewed here.
M 0434 381 670
About us: The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) is the oldest, largest and most diverse national retail body, representing a $400 billion sector that employs 1.3 million Australians and is the largest private sector employer in the country. As Australia’s peak retail body, representing more than 120,000 retail shop fronts and online stores, the ARA informs, advocates, educates, protects and unifies our independent, national and international retail community. To learn more about ARA’s exclusive member benefits and more, visit retail.org.au