Leading Practices from the 2023 Australian Great Place To Work Certified™ Community: Theme 2 – Partnering with Underserved Communities to Address Talent Shortages

Valentina Lwin Bailey


In a time marked by low unemployment rates and a robust labour market, it might seem surprising to hear that Australia is still grappling with persistent skills shortages. Yet, the 2023 Jobs and Skills Australia Report reveals that 36% of occupations are currently facing shortages, marking a 5% increase from the previous year. To tackle this challenge, the report emphasises the need for a collaborative effort involving vocational and higher education sectors, industry stakeholders, and a streamlined migration system.

A noteworthy approach to address these shortages is from the Australian Great Place To Work Certified™ community, which has been actively engaging with underserved communities. These initiatives not only aim to bridge workforce gaps but also nurture aspiration among youth from underrepresented backgrounds.

Building aspiration, starting at young age:

  • Outreach with primary and high school students in underrepresented areas such as indigenous, rural, girls, blue-collar areas.
  • Wellbeing and leadership program for girls and women in Indigenous communities, including career mapping session to generate aspiration.

Intentionally building capacity in youth to grow talent, particularly in talent shortage industries:

  • School-based traineeships and apprenticeships for First Nations high school students in different states.
  • Mentoring at risk high school students and immersion programs for youths who are disenfranchised from mainstream education.
  • Summer jobs for High Schools and VET students, which have converted into permanent roles.

Collaboration with local partners to increase participating from underserved communities:

  • Purposefully hiring people with disability, and by chance some in customer facing roles increasing awareness and acceptance in the broader community.
  • Partnership with job-readiness program/agencies to prepare refugees and migrants to enter the workforce.

Creating opportunities for older women to rebuild/relaunch their careers after a break or adversity:

  • Reverse mentoring programs help them adapt to the evolving workforce, bridge skill gaps and boost confidence.
  • Reskilling and job-readiness preparation to reignite their careers and harness their wealth of experience and expertise.

These initiatives practiced by Great Place To Work Certified companies, do more than address skill shortages; they inspire and guide young students to envision brighter futures, and go on to become valuable contributors to their families and the broader communities. It is inspiring to see these progressive companies leading the way in transforming the workforce and making a positive impact on underserved communities. In doing so, they not only bridge talent gaps but also foster a more inclusive and equitable society.

Find out more about other leading practices and findings from the Best Workplaces in Australia in our 2023 Insights Report, Trust Matters – Navigating Uncertainty: The Power of Leadership


Valentina Lwin Bailey