HR Leader logo
Stay connected.   Subscribe  to our newsletter

HR news round-up: Skills gaps, young entrepreneurs, and office wars

By Jack Campbell | |6 minute read

In this week’s round-up of HR news, the government has established institutes to help plug the skills gap. Meanwhile, a lack of young entrepreneurs is creating economic trouble, and the back-to-office war and retail recession rage.

New institutes to help plug skills gaps

As reported by the Australian Financial Review (AFR), just 3 per cent of Aussies believe the education system provides job-ready graduates, according to a study by the Australian Information Industry Association.


In response to this issue, the government announced the introduction of two institutes, which aim to provide training and education regarding technology and construction.

The institutes will form a partnership between TAFE NSW, Macquarie University, the University of Technology, and Microsoft. TAFE NSW’s chief strategy and commercial officer, Vik Naidoo, said the institutes are part of a four-year pilot funded by the NSW Department of Education designed to experiment with new education models.

With the pilot recently reaching its halfway mark, Mr Naidoo said most of those undertaking courses have been people looking to upskill, rather than undergraduates. “Most young people are very focused on traditional pathways of acquiring Australian qualifications as opposed to short courses,” he said.

The Institute of Applied Technology – Construction will open at Kingswood, in Sydney’s west, later in the year.

Young business

As discussed by The Courier Mail, younger Australians aren’t keen on starting their own business, which could spell trouble for the economy.

According to a report from Small Business Matters, there are half as many small-business owners under the age of 30 as there were in the 1970s. With small businesses contributing $500 billion to the economy each year, there are calls to encourage younger people to get into small business.

“We need to replenish and nurture the next generation of entrepreneurs, value self-employment and encourage and enable smaller enterprises and the livelihoods they make possible,” said Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Bruce Billson.

“We need to understand why it is not as appealing as it perhaps should be for younger Australians to own a small business.”

This may be easier said than done, as the report found that 43 per cent of small businesses failed to make a profit, and three-quarters of the business owners took home less than the average wage.

“Taking on the responsibility of owning and running a small business can be inspired by a range of goals and motivations, an abundance of purpose and meaning and be rich with unpredictability of challenges and income. It can be a hard slog and not always be as rewarding as people might hope,” Mr Billson said.

Back-to-office war

There is a battle to get workers back in the office, and guess who’s winning? BBC said the employees are winning, as many are fighting back for their flexibility.

“Employees – not companies – still seem to be the ones dictating the return-to-office rules. In many cases, they’re ignoring calls to go in; meeting mandates with fierce pushback; and even causing staunch supporters of in-person work, like large financial institutions, to ease their demands,” said BBC.

However, BBC believes that employers will continue to roll out back-to-office mandates, and employees will continue to voice their concerns, resulting in a stalemate.

A happy medium may be to promote hybrid working, giving employees the choice to choose their onsite days while ensuring employers still get people turning up.

Retail recession

The Sydney Morning Herald published an article discussing the “retail recession”. This refers to companies’ profits declining as consumers aren’t spending like they usually do.

Harvey Norman was one company to be hit by this issue, as profits for this financial year are down 25 per cent.

Interest rate hikes are reportedly part of the issue, as people don’t have the money to spend. Inflation and the rising cost of living are also surely to blame as people struggle to find a balance.


Hybrid working

In a hybrid work environment, individuals are allowed to work from a different location occasionally but are still required to come into the office at least once a week. With the phrase "hybrid workplace," which denotes an office that may accommodate interactions between in-person and remote workers, "hybrid work" can also refer to a physical location.

Skills gap

A skills gap is the sum of the competencies that an employee or candidate possesses and those that are necessary to effectively complete the job requirements.

Jack Campbell

Jack Campbell

Jack is the editor at HR Leader.