18 November 2020

Businesses struggle to find staff as summer season approaches

| Kim Treasure
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Eurobodalla Council’s Employment Revolution employment projects officer Amy Kovacs and coordinator Rhonnie South.

Eurobodalla Council’s Employment Revolution employment projects officer Amy Kovacs and coordinator Rhonnie South. Photo: Supplied.

Some South Coast businesses are struggling to find staff as the region gears up for peak season, with many blaming the Federal Government’s COVID-19 support for discouraging job-seekers.

The Federal Government has extended the coronavirus supplement payment on the JobSeeker unemployment benefit — at a lower rate — until the end of March 2021.

JobSeeker will reduce from $815 a fortnight to $715 a fortnight from December, but some employers believe that’s still enough to discourage the casual workers who usually fill hospitality and tourism-related jobs during the busy summer months.

One Batemans Bay motel owner said she knew of 15 other local businesses “screaming for workers”.

“I’m at the point where I will have to close down rooms as I don’t have the staff to clean them,” she said.

Some cafes have taken to closing on set days or reducing their opening hours, saying they and their existing staff are exhausted and unable to attract additional employees.

Eurobodalla Shire Council has been taking a pro-active response to matching employees with businesses needing staff.

Today they are running a Jobs Drive at the Moruya Memorial RSL Hall, 9 Page Street, from 10 am to 12 pm.

An initiative of council’s Employment Revolution project, the Jobs Drive will bring together 11 local employers from the health and community services sector who collectively have more than 50 job vacancies in the areas of childcare, cleaning, kitchen and food service, working with older people, supporting people with disability, home care, social work, training and assessment and nursing.

Council’s employment projects officer Amy Kovacs said the event would help demystify and speed up the job application process for job-seekers.

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“It can be quite intimidating to apply for a job in the health sector but the Jobs Drive will help break down barriers for people who might think it’s too difficult, or that they’re not qualified,” she said.

“If you need a job, come along – even if you don’t think you’re qualified. You’ll get to meet employers face-to-face and hand them your resume on the day, giving you the opportunity to make a good impression and avoiding what is sometimes a lengthy application process.”

Ms Kovacs said the Jobs Drive benefitted local employers, too.

“The sector ordinarily always looking for staff is in fact now looking for even more staff due to COVID,” she said.

“Anyone who is looking for any type of position – part-time, casual and fulltime, entry-level or specialised, should come along – don’t be afraid if you don’t have a qualification.”

Ms Kovacs said it was a “job-seeker market” at the moment.

She said vacancies advertised through council had increased significantly throughout the year. In the first week of March, there were 35 new job vacancies as the economy started to recover after the summer bushfires.

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When lockdown began in April that dropped to just 8.

By May the shire was showing signs of recovery, with 37 jobs advertised, but by November that had shot up to 70.

“We have heard several accounts of employers finding it difficult to find staff,” Ms Kovacs said.

“Application numbers are down for jobs we would otherwise have significant interest in, such as apprenticeships and outdoor work.

“The industries repetitively looking for staff are community services and health, hospitality, childcare, construction, retail and hands on jobs. In summary, job application numbers and staff retention across all industries have been affected.

“Since so many jobs are available, it’s a ‘job seeker market’ meaning the ones who are working can choose to be employed from several businesses, rather than just one or two.”

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