Sourcing talent and skills through workforce diversity

Equal opportunity for all employees

Increasing workforce diversity could be a major contributor to solving the skills shortage.  The following labour pools are often overlooked as sources of potential workers:

  • Indigenous Australians
  • Immigrants with qualifications from unfamiliar institutions
  • People with disabilities

Despite their potential, many businesses struggle to identify these groups as sources of talent.  Companies also face the challenges of changing workplace practices and individual behaviours that marginalise these workers.

Federal Government can use taxes and benefits to optimise these labour pools. The Disability Support Pension (DSP), for example, is a vital part of Australia’s social safety net; however, it’s tended to be a one-way ticket for recipients. It makes sense to reassess people’s capacity to work from time to time.

Section 7 of Where is your next worker? examines:

  • Seek out your workers in hidden places
  • Unaware of outside-the-box talent
  • Policy opening the way
  • Reflecting on the business opportunities
  • Case study: mining an untapped resource.
Recruiting Recruiting talent early to overcome the demographic gapGet full report

Reflections on the business opportunities

  • Can your organisation identify the qualifications and skills of foreign trained workers?
  • What are you doing to challenge assumptions and stereotypes about workers with a disability?
  • What work experience placements do you offer to foreign trained workers to gain on-the-job experience?
  • What training do you have in place to help your workforce confront unconscious biases such as discrimination, prejudice and ethnic stereotyping in selecting candidates?
  • How are you providing in-job mentoring and opportunities to build the workplace skills of Indigenous workers?

Mining an untapped resource

The Argyle Diamond Mine’s Participation Agreement establishes a number of mechanisms to ensure its mining operations provide benefits to Indigenous people well beyond the life of the mine. These include community development initiatives and collaboratively managing the environmental and cultural impact of mining activities. The agreement also establishes mechanisms to ensure traditional owners are actively involved in managing the lease’s assets. 

Argyle also works to increase Indigenous employment through a number of educational initiatives, such as local high school support programs, young Indigenous women’s leadership camps and a horse-mastery program. Argyle uses a number of Indigenous staff recruitment strategies, including pre-employment training;accelerated training; flexible traineeships and apprenticeships; new entry points for employment; career planning; and Indigenous leadership development programs. 

Finally, in line with its longer-term outlook and lifestyle, Argyle pursues programs to improve health in the community and support local businesses that are independent of the mine.

Participation: Where is your next worker?


Retaining the ageing workforce for their expertise
Mature age workers are typically the most experienced and reliable employees and is a massive untapped source of productive capacity. Retaining these wisdom workers will be increasingly important during the skills shortage.


Increasing women’s participation in the workforce
Retaining women in the workforce could lessen the impact of Australia’s skills shortage.  While both sexes are equally represented in the workforce when careers start, women’s participation rate drops between the ages of 25 and 44, and never fully recovers.


Moving workers interstate
Finding the right person for the job often depends as much on where they live as their abilities. With workforce mobility becoming increasingly critical, better use of technology can help employers take jobs to the workers.