Once upon a time skills shortages were cyclical, today they are the new norm.
It isn’t a problem that is easily resolved and there is still a lot of work to do.
Clearly there is no silver bullet. It isn’t just about tackling gender diversity or age discrimination.
The issue is wide ranging and covers everything from financial support for apprentices to staff retention.
Sadly, for older women invisibility is a real concern. When a person is not being seen their qualifications become meaningless.
It’s a very different scenario for older men. Their maturity equates to experience and knowledge, qualities that should be valued by every employer.
One area that has made significant progress, is Paid Parental Leave.
Just last year the federal government announced a significant expansion of the scheme increasing it to 26 weeks by July 2026.
The legislation also introduced concurrent leave meaning that from 2026 both parents can take four weeks leave providing greater flexibility for families.
This is encouraging but there are other issues like the gender pay gap where progress is painfully slow.
Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data shows that the national gender pay gap has dropped from 13.3 per cent in 2022 to 13 per cent in 2023.
These figures are far from ideal and there really is no reason to celebrate but according to the federal government this figure is the lowest on record.
Fortunately, the Minister for Women, Senator Katy Gallagher, isn’t delusional. She said the figures are moving in the right direction but admits there is still a lot more work to do.
“There is still plenty of work to do for women whose weekly full-time income is still, on average, $252.30 lower per week than men,” she said.
I don’t expect significant change any time soon. This old chestnut has been around forever and won’t be resolved until there are more women in the boardroom.
In the meantime the war for talent will continue and businesses will do what they always do, simply adapt.