Close-up on a blue help wanted sign.
Close-up on a blue help wanted sign.

‘Very frustrating’ reason why people aren’t taking up work

AN INFLUX of jobs are becoming available across the Far North, but it's the lack of interest from those "enjoying" government subsidies that's sparking frustration, business leaders say.

As businesses rebuild from a challenging year, new positions are being created and old ones are now needing to be filled.

In just one 24-hour period last week, up to 60 new jobs in the Cairns and the Far North region were advertised on SEEK.

Employment agency, QITE also announced that almost 150 jobs would need to be filled on mango farms at Mareeba, Mutchilba and Dimbulah in the coming weeks.

Director of CBC Staff Selection and President of Cairns Chamber of Commerce, Sally Mlikota.
Director of CBC Staff Selection and President of Cairns Chamber of Commerce, Sally Mlikota.

Director of CBC Staff Selection and president of Cairns Chamber of Commerce Sally Mlikota said after a significant drop earlier this year, recruitment "is currently back to about 80 per cent of its pre-Covid levels".

She said the industries and sectors looking for the most workers included local and state government, community services, building, construction, legal and finance.

"From when the country got shut down, almost immediately, all recruitment for CBC Staff Selection stopped … but then once the Cairns and Townsville 'lockdown' ended, we got more traction," Ms Mlikota said.

Despite the multitude of opportunities across various industries, many continue to ride the wave of government JobSeeker payments instead of entering the workforce.

"JobSeeker is frustrating at the lower end of the market and is affecting those at the entry level," Ms Mlikota said.

"They are 'enjoying' reaping the rewards of JobSeeker for no effort, so it is very frustrating and very short-term focused - so it is certainly a barrier to us filling roles at the entry level.

"JobKeeper (is) less of an obstacle and barrier."

Cummings Economics Principal, Bill Cummings. Picture: Marc McCormack
Cummings Economics Principal, Bill Cummings. Picture: Marc McCormack

According to data revealed by Cummings Economics from Australian Department of Social Services, 22,660 people from Cairns, Cassowary Coast, Tablelands, Mareeba and Douglas areas were receiving JobSeeker and Youth Allowances in October.

This is compared to 23,691 people in September.

"During October, the numbers receiving JobSeeker payments continued to come down in the Cairns region but only very slowly," Cairns economist Bill Cummings said.

"The COVID restrictions saw numbers peak in May at over 26,000, over 10,000 up on March.

"Since then, they have come down by about 3500, but still have a substantial distance to go to be back to the pre-COVID level.

"Numbers on JobSeeker and Youth Allowance (Other) payments now equate to about 17 per cent of the workforce."

Originally published as 'Very frustrating' reason why people aren't taking up work