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Change views in hiring older workers, employers told

In order to deal with labour shortages and an ageing population, employers must change their views in hiring older workers who may not have technical skills and spend time teaching them instead.

Hamish McLachland, NZ’s OneHQ CEO, said that while technical skills are highly important in roles such as medicine and law, other sectors can benefit by prioritising and taking into consideration softer skills over technical abilities in order to compete in today’s tight market.

“It’s easy to view that today, ‘You’re older and you don’t know this technology and that means you’re redundant’. I think it could perhaps be thought of the other way around, as long as that individual is proactive and has the right attitude, then they’re very valuable in a business,” McLachland said.

According to the OneHQ chief executive, the experience of our workforce becomes more valuable than the technology if we give the time and effort to show people how to leverage it.

“It’s sometimes too easy to throw out the old and try and bring in someone new with the right technical skills, but often that doesn’t deliver the right outcome.”

He added investing in people who have come from different sectors who have different traits and a different skillset is also something that businesses should consider when looking to hire new employees.

“There have been great hires that have come out of other sectors, if they have good traits, they can be trained on the technical skills.”

McLachland said with the ever-changing workforce, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find potential employees who already have the technical knowledge, experience and abilities; therefore, businesses need to be less picky with older people and the less experienced.

He said with immigration issues also threatening to prohibit the number of skilled labourers to New Zealand, businesses may need to reconsider their bias against mature and inexperienced workers if they want to succeed long-term.

“With technically skilled labourers becoming harder to come by, SME owners in particular, should adjust their expectations of finding the best in class and instead give thought to softer skills such as attitude, teachability and personality.”

McLachland said with the growing multicultural society in Auckland, being more open to having employees of different cultures and ethnicities is also something that can be of value to a company amid immigration issues.

“If someone has a good attitude and a willingness to learn, I would choose that any day over someone with loads of experience and not enough personality.”

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