There’s a lot of discussion about labour shortages and skill shortages, with not a lot of answers, certainly not a lot of answers in the lead up to the federal election. It seems the degree of seriousness that any government takes anything is measured by how much money they promise to allocate to it sometime in the future. The question by a journalist is normally “How serious is your government about stopping this issue?”. And the response is “We’re so serious we’re committing $100 million.”. Or if they aren’t serious “We’re developing a plan about that now”.
When it comes to helping pensioners and small business owners, strange bedfellows I know, there tends to be lots of aspirational statements, but little in the way of concrete answers. Giving a pensioner a bonus of $250 out of the blue is nice, but what does it really do, especially at a time of high inflation? Cutting the cost of medicines, yep, a good thing to do, it helps, absolutely, but it’s a bandaid. Like pretty much everything offered to help this group of Australian citizens who deserve much, much better.
What about small business owners? I’ve worked with the highest level of political representation in Australia in the past, and been told, emphatically, that if they look after big business, small business will sort itself out. Think about that for a second.
Anyway, back to the opportunity. What if small business could utilise an extraordinary part time work force? One that we’ve simply put out to pasture and made it too risky and too scary for most of them to work, even a little – our pensioners.
I think that all too often our picture of a pensioner is an old lady or man, sitting in their garden with a cat. The pensioners I know are active, energetic, experienced in many facets of life and work – and most importantly, they want to be doing meaningful things with their life, not just sit back and watch the Bold and the Beautiful.
So we are facing a labour shortage. There are some two million small businesses in Australia. A large proportion of whom could and would love to be able to casually employ retired people to help them (even just family members). This could be with day to day tasks, offering technical advice, mentoring business owners, training, project management and so on, based on their skill set, the amount that they want to work and their experience.
Yet this pool of talented people face the issue of losing their pension if they earn even a minuscule amount of money. Why not give them a decent tax/pension free threshold of $30,000 a year – or even more? Let them work, without fear of their pension being affected. Imagine the impact this could have on their day to day life. For those willing and able to be able to have a disposable income, to be able to save, to be able to do the things they used to do but not can’t afford to do, would be the right thing to do in my opinion.
Not only would this be a really positive move for pensioners, I personally would love to provide an opportunity for work to people who have been there, done that, who have wisdom, experience, that is highly valuable to me as a small business owner. I can learn from them. I can build a better business by having them involved. And I can help them to have a better quality of life.
This to me, seems like a simple and wonderful way to solve two problems. And to show that our elders are valued, and they have the right to be able to live and earn and contribute. They can at least have a choice to work if they so choose and if they are able.
Now I don’t doubt that I might be looking at this a little simply. I’m sure there are all kinds of complicated things to consider from both a practical point of view and a political point of view. But at the same time, perhaps this is just common sense and win/win for everyone involved.
How would you feel about hiring a senior in your business? To provide their experience, their knowledge, their skills, their wisdom to you business? And to build a role that is flexible, part time, affordable for the business? I’d be hiring seniors left right and centre.
Love your thoughts on this.