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Demographics: How a changing labour force is impacting recruitment

By Shandel McAuliffe | |6 minute read

When we talk about the future of work, there’s a tendency to focus on automation or technology, but in fact it’s people – who we are, where we live, and what we do – who often set the pace for transformation, innovation and large-scale change.


People, and more specifically, demographics, play a huge role in what an economy looks like and in how we work. It’s people that influence the industries and occupations that thrive or struggle, and whether it’s easy or difficult to recruit talent. 

Older workers and labour market outcomes

In 2023, we’re likely to continue to experience an ongoing shortage of workers, due in part to our ageing population. The Australian population is currently older than it’s ever been before – a little greyer and a little thinner on top. One of the economic consequences of an ageing population is that a larger share of our population will be in retirement and a smaller share of the population will be in the workforce.

This also has consequences for job mobility. Older workers tend to be more cautious, prioritising job security over new opportunities. An older workforce therefore means that it could be a little harder to attract talent from other organisations but a little easier to retain your existing staff. 

In addition, an ageing workforce will impact hiring trends – all but ensuring that the fastest growing industry over the next few decades will be healthcare and aged care. We’ll need to find a lot of doctors, nurses, and aged care workers to meet demands. 

What should organisations be aware of going into the next 6–12 months?

Demand for talent continues to be incredibly strong across the nation. This remains a tough recruitment environment - one that greatly favours jobseekers and requires recruiters to be creative and responsive to the needs of their workforce. 

Jobseekers, who now have greater power over where and how they work and are better positioned to bargain for higher wages or better conditions, are taking advantage of the market.
How might organisations adapt their recruitment strategies to better suit the uncertain labour market?

Employers need to be aware of changing demographics and how that impacts their workforce, their operations, and their customers. They also need to adapt to an incredibly tight labour market which greatly favours the jobseeker.

The first action to take is to broaden your candidate search. That could include targeting different demographics, for example: older workers, people with a disability, or First Nations peoples. It could also include adjusting the requirements for some roles – do you really need 5-years' experience, or will 2-years’ be sufficient?

Training and reskilling is incredibly important in a job market that has a shortage of candidates. Investing in your workforce and their professional development is an excellent way to retain existing staff and fill potential gaps. 
Paying more, if you can, is also an excellent way to attract more candidates and retain existing staff.

Beyond a competitive wage, offering top-notch benefits and fostering a positive and engaging company culture will remain incredibly important to help win talent.

Australia’s demographics have shifted in recent decades, and some of these changes will create challenges in the job market, as these groups leverage for better conditions or policies that meet their needs. While no one can know exactly what will happen with the labour market, attracting, hiring and retaining workers will remain a challenge for employers in the foreseeable future.

Callam Pickering is senior APAC economist at Indeed. You can find the recent Indeed & Glassdoor’s Hiring and Workplace Trends Report 2023 here.



The practice of actively seeking, locating, and employing people for a certain position or career in a corporation is known as recruitment.

Shandel McAuliffe

Shandel McAuliffe

Shandel has recently returned to Australia after working in the UK for eight years. Shandel's experience in the UK included over three years at the CIPD in their marketing, marcomms and events teams, followed by two plus years with The Adecco Group UK&I in marketing, PR, internal comms and project management. Cementing Shandel's experience in the HR industry, she was the head of content for Cezanne HR, a full-lifecycle HR software solution, for the two years prior to her return to Australia.

Shandel has previous experience as a copy writer, proofreader and copy editor, and a keen interest in HR, leadership and psychology. She's excited to be at the helm of HR Leader as its editor, bringing new and innovative ideas to the publication's audience, drawing on her time overseas and learning from experts closer to home in Australia.

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