Businesses will continue to face significant challenges in the next decade, with the skills shortage now ‘baked into the demographic pie’ but the City of Moreton Bay is better positioned than anywhere in Europe to grow and prosper according to leading demographer Simon Kuestenmacher.
Mr Kuestenmacher, who is regarded as one of the world’s top 10 demographers, gave business leaders at the 32 Trends Towards 2032 business lunch at Eatons Hill Hotel on November 10 a glimpse of the future.
The event, presented by Moreton Bay Region Industry and Tourism (MBRIT) and the City of Moreton Bay, aimed to help the business community prepare of the opportunities and challenges ahead in the next decade.
Mr Kuestenmacher told the audience he would struggle to find a place in Europe that had the same opportunities now on the horizon for the City of Moreton Bay.
His key recommendations were for businesses to prepare for the skills shortage to remain for at least the next decade, flatten organisational structures, embrace technology to free-up the workforce, and target ends of the market with the most growth opportunities.
Mr Kuestenmacher gave an insight into what Queensland and the City of Moreton Bay’s population mix will look like in 10 years’ time, based on the forecast number of births, deaths and migration intake.
Growth, growth, growth
In Queensland there will be 800,000 new people - 80,000 new people per year, of which 12,000 per year or 1000 per month will move to the City of Moreton Bay.
“That growth is all but baked into the system. We know that this is coming,” he said.
The age that will experience most growth is those aged 43 years old – a cohort that will spend more money at this stage in their lives than any other, primarily because they are on good incomes, have large mortgages and children.
“If you sell anything that is remotely related to young families … you will have a wonderful, wonderful decade because these millennials … they start families, they move into family-sized homes, they need to fill those homes,” Mr Kuestenmacher said.
He said Moreton Bay took on the overflow of population from Brisbane, particularly young families looking for affordable options with room to move.
“Population is like water, they flow to wherever these (three and four-bedroom) homes are available. That is what you offer,” he said.
He said this would continue to be the case in the next 13-14 years as millennials looked for housing to suit their growing families. These will be people in their 20s and 30s and people who have returned from living overseas.
“This is a dream come true,” Mr Kuestenmacher said.
“You are lucky enough to get exactly the right population you need into the market.”
And this group of millennials will go some way to easing the skills shortage in Moreton Bay but won’t be enough to fill it.
“Millennial women who have moved (here) in the last five years … that is your cohort, that is your chance. Get them and you have a local, loyal workforce. You then need to be a very flexible employer because that will be the most important thing, probably more important than pay,” he said.
Employers will also need to be mindful of the differing needs and expectations of employees across the generations to retain quality personnel.
Mr Kuestenmacher said businesses would need to embrace technology to automate some tasks to free-up a lean workforce cause by a shortage of skilled staff.
This is now ‘baked into the demographic pie’ with a large baby boomer cohort retiring and a smaller group of people in their 20s entering the workforce.
Adding to the problem is the large number of the millennials who would continue to have children for the next 13-14 years.
“That means they at least leave the world of work temporarily as they go on parental leave. The skills shortage is here to stay,” he said.
“This will be your single biggest worry as business leaders over the coming decade. There is no way out of this, even under high migration intake … the skills shortage is so severe.”
The City of Moreton Bay will however attract more highly skilled workers from overseas, looking for affordable housing and lifestyle.
“They help fuel gentrification. That moves Moreton Bay collectively a bit more upmarket. That means more attractive consumer opportunities at the top end of the market. The bottom is still very strong, still 40 per cent growth,” he said.
With this in mind, businesses need to target products and services to the low and/or high ends of the markets to grow.
“The single dummest thing you can do is blindly target the centre of the market and think that she’ll be right. She won’t be right,” Mr Kuestenmacher said.
This will be challenging in the current environment where customer expectations are so high as a result of digital disruption, but he reckons Moreton Bay is up for the challenge.
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