Aussies Early to Workforce Planning Game

By Ed Frauenheim

Oct. 28, 2009

The workforce planning software that companies are gobbling up has strong roots in the land Down Under.

Two of the vendors selling long-range workforce planning applications—Aruspex and Infohrm—were started by Aussies. And, observers suggest, Australian organizations have been ahead of the curve when it comes to using workforce planning tools.

Australians’ early arrival to the workforce planning party has to do with labor market conditions that led to low unemployment, says Stacy Chapman, an Australian native who co-founded software firm Aruspex several years ago.

“Australia faces a few serious demographic challenges—low birthrates since the 1970s, and a remote island, so almost no illegal immigration—plus a history of very tightly controlled skilled migration,” Chapman says. “It is these low unemployment rates and an aging population which have made planning a priority.”

Aruspex is headquartered in San Francisco, but software development is done in Melbourne. The other workforce planning software company with Australian origins, Infohrm, is headed by CEO Peter Howes, who was on the academic staff at Queensland University of Technology in Australia and formed a precursor to the firm in 1982. Infohrm has operations in Australia, the U.K. and the U.S.

Australian federal government agencies were prompted to consider the future of their workforces some time ago, thanks partly to government policy that encouraged public-sector employees to retire at 54 years and 11 months of age, says Jaye Tanner, a consultant at Infohrm. Tanner, who served in the Australian departments of immigration and employment workplace relations earlier this decade, says Australians were attuned to the issue of the aging workforce by the 1990s. That’s earlier than most Americans or Europeans began focusing on the graying of the workforce and possible labor crunches.

“People were aware of workforce-labor issues,” she says. “Australians probably had to do that earlier on.”

Even recently, Australia has faced relatively tight labor markets. Australia’s unemployment rate was 5.5 percent in August, compared with a 9.6 percent rate in the U.S., according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development research group.

Workforce Management, October, 2009, p. 40Subscribe Now!

Ed Frauenheim is a former Associate Editorial Director at Human Capital Media and currently works as Senior Director of Content at Great Place to Work. He is a co-author of A Great Place to Work For All.

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