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A Million Jobs…and You Can’t Find One

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by Lisa Johnson

5 months ago

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According to the ABC, Australia has created, on average, 200,000 new jobs each year for the past 15 years.  That’s one million jobs just in the past 5 years.  That’s a lot of jobs!

So why can’t you find one?

The job market has changed a lot over that time.  Just think, the manufacturing industry used to be one of Australia’s top employers, now it’s Health.  So many job seekers have not been fully aware of these changes; they have continued to try and gain a role in a steadily diminishing industry without realising they could have considerably more opportunities if they retrained or even simply applied for a different role.

The graph in the ABC article is a great demonstration of this – take a moment to look at it, use the slide to see how the job market has changed and think about your approach to finding work:

  • Are you limiting yourself to a declining industry?
  • Have you considered what skills you already have that are transferable to a new industry?
  • Are you trying to find work that has been centralised to a major centre?

My hot tip for anyone who is really struggling to find work is to take a good hard look at the health industry.  As the report says, it’s not going anywhere and is nearly recession proof.  If you need to, and can do, consider retraining – can you access courses through TAFE that give you certification in health related roles?    With the NDIS alone, apparently looking to create 80,000 full time jobs by 2020 there is an industry likely to struggle to find candidates. 

One consideration that must be taken into account is money.  I know that there are people who have earned excellent money in their previous roles and it’s very hard to consider taking a step ‘back’ financially.  And let me be clear, you know what money you need to meet all your commitments.  But if you have been unemployed for some time, or can afford to perhaps take an initial pay cut (if applicable) to retrain / work in the health or aged care industry then it is something to seriously consider.  There is no point being the best lab technician in the world if there are NO jobs for lab technicians close to home.

Part Time Jobs and the Casualization of the Workforce

OK, there is a lot of talk about casualization and depending on who you are it’s either a fact of life or the devil in disguise.  This article from The Guardian is a great discourse on what casualization is and what the concerns are.  In summary though, between the two articles we know this:

  • There has been a significant increase in the number of part time jobs over full time jobs over the past 15 years
  • Statistically more women than men are in part time work, although the biggest increase in part time roles has been in the number of men in part time employment
  • Two thirds of part time employees claim to be happy with their working arrangements
  • The number of casual employees has actually remained pretty static over the past 20 years at around 25% of the total workforce
  • Young people are over represented in the casual workforce, with the number of people under 25 employed casually having increased by 7% in the past 10 years

Therein lies the biggest concern for casual work – the over representation of young people.  It is a known fact that young people are really struggling to find permanent or full time work in Australia and those that are in casual roles (particularly in hospitality or seasonal work) have very little power to negotiate for pay increases or better terms.  Therefore, young people are at risk of being exploited and working in roles where there are limited opportunities to transfer skills into something more stable. 

I don’t have a solution for this, I will have to leave it to the government to address it, but if you are young and searching for an opportunity then look closely at the scale / graph in the ABC article – consider the growth industries.  Find out what skills or qualifications you need to get a break into a health related role or perhaps construction (manufacturing might be quiet but construction continues to boom) and focus your attention on those industries.  Be proactive, don’t be afraid to call the manager of your local aged care home to ask for some advice on how to get a job there, or use your keyword search in SEEK carefully to find apprentice or junior roles in construction companies. 

In summary, whether you are young, old or somewhere in between, if you are struggling in this booming job market, be smart.  Find out where the growth is in your region (google is not just for finding pictures of cats) and target those industries.  Be proactive.  Be prepared.  Be hopeful.

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