Australian businesses who work in the visitor economy have been hard-hit by workforce shortages. One option for hospitality businesses is to look for skills among an older demographic.
Mature-age workers have a valuable contribution to make to tourism businesses, as Nundah Community Enterprises Co-operative (Nundah Co-op) in Queensland knows well. Nundah Co-op is made up of several small businesses and it often looks to older Australians.
‘What I look for is reliable people with the right attitude, and I’ve found mature-age employees often have those qualities,’ says Hospitality Enterprises Operations Manager Kirsty Leigh.
‘We have hired a number of older people looking for something to do that they enjoy. The short 3 or 4 hour shifts we can offer suit them,’ she adds.
‘Our goal is always to give our customers what they want quickly, happily and with the best service we can. Mature age workers consistently provide this.
‘They’re living their motto: “We don’t employ people to make coffee; we make coffee so we can employ people”.’
One of Nundah Co-Op’s team, Maha Yassa is in her early 60s. She has two roles with the co-op. She’s a chef and she’s also the leader of a program that gives disadvantaged job-seekers work experience in the co-op while studying hospitality.
As a full-time mum of seven, she has plenty of transferable skills. Yet she found breaking back into the workforce in her mid-50’s, after 30 years of raising her children, a challenge.
‘I have so much to do. I’m energetic! I’m not going to retire,’ Yassa says. ‘I like to help people find work – it’s less lonely and it gives you self-worth. I tell people: “Do what you can, even if it’s only a few hours”.’
‘We are so lucky to have Maha supervise the student program,’ says Leigh. ‘She’s a great multi-tasker, and she is an encouraging and patient teacher. Her life experience and enthusiasm for her job means she’s a valued team member.’
Visit Austrade’s website to learn about the advantages of employing older Australians in the visitor economy.
The Department of Employment and Workplace Relations (DEWR) has information on services and supports that connect businesses and mature age workers. Visit the Mature Age Hub on the DEWR website to learn more.
To learn more about the work of the Nundah Community Enterprises Co-operative.
Tourism Research Australia (TRA) is Australia’s official provider of tourism data and analysis to support Australia’s visitor economy. TRA has a rich 35-year history of data collection at the leading edge of tourism research in Australia.