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Without foreign students and workers, retail sector calls for pensioners to fill staffing gaps

The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has called on new government policy to unlock pensioner participation in a sector that is facing its tightest labour market in half a century, exacerbated by a lower inflow of international students and working holiday makers.

The peak retail body is supporting calls to allow employment income to be exempt from the Age Pension income test, which would help pensioners supplement their incomes and alleviate longstanding staff shortages.

ARA CEO Paul Zahra says there are now more than 29,000 job vacancies in the retail industry nationwide.

“We are in the tightest labour market in more than 50 years and without the usual numbers of overseas workers and students, these gaps won’t be filled using traditional recruitment methods,” Zahra says.

“Retail has always been a powerfully diverse employment sector and we need to think more creatively about how we can mobilise new segments of our Australian workforce such as mature age workers and pensioners.

“We would like to see this as a priority for the Federal government immediately following the election. Should the new government enact this considered change, a new workforce of pensioners can be unlocked and able to choose work that suits them in an economy that desperately needs their efforts.”

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