Student runs the numbers on the tax office

4 Jul 2008
When UQ Business School student Kylie Worgan, 21, of Browns Plains, hands in her Business Industry Placement research assignment, her course coordinator won't be the only one interested in reading it. Ms Worgan's essay, 'The Australian Taxation Office and the Ageing Workforce', is the culmination of a semester-long industry placement program at the ATO, and the timely nature of her research has already attracted attention from senior ATO officers. "I had printed out a draft of my assignment at the office and when I went to collect it from the printer the Director of Industrial Relations in my Business Line was looking at it and he said 'I want to see this when it is finished'," said Ms Worgan, who is about to complete a Bachelor of Business Management. "A lot of people are interested in the ageing workforce issue because it is something that is having an impact everywhere. The ATO is looking at as many resources as it can come across because even though there is a plan in place the more relevant information they can get the better, and my project is specific to the ATO," she said. Ms Worgan's research reviews the ATO's workforce situation in light of the challenges and opportunities presented by the ageing population. It looks at the age and tenure of the current workforce and then moves on to consider the impacts of the ageing workforce, both positive and negative, based on previous studies. Finally, it concludes by presenting strategies available to the ATO to alleviate the impacts of the ageing workforce. "It is imperative that organisations recognise this social phenomenon and both the challenges and opportunities it presents in order to overcome talent shortages that will become increasingly common due to the skills shortages that Australia is facing," Ms Worgan said. UQBS academic and course co-ordinator Liz Ferrier said the Business Industry Placement course (RBUS3999) not only enabled students to gain greater insight into the realities of communication and management in organisational settings, but, as Ms Worgan proved, could also be hugely beneficial for their employers. "The ageing workforce and skills shortage is such a timely and important issue, and even though many workplaces and industries are aware that it is having a significant impact on them, staff shortages make it difficult for them to address the issue," Dr Ferrier said. "There is a lot of literature out there on the ageing workforce but not specifically on the ATO, so for her employer, Ms Worgan's research project is not just about jumping through a set of academic hoops, it is about providing something of value," she said.