Are jobs hard to get, or are job seekers not trying hard enough? It is a pervasive argument that has befallen the nation and particularly Launceston.
The most recent data available on job advertisements on the website seek.com.au showed that in October last year there were 215 new jobs advertised. In what may surprise many, this was actually 14 per cent less than the 249 jobs advertised in 2020.
With more jobs, could the debate then fall in the employer's favour? Is it that potential employees just are not putting in the effort?
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Eumarrah food store in Launceston advertised two jobs last month, one casual position and one assistant manager role.
Manager Debbie Zuj said the casual position received several applications and was filled quickly and easily, but the assistant manager role received one application in six weeks before it was taken down.
Another Launceston business was advertising for an experienced hospitality worker for six weeks last month - both online and on Facebook. The owner of the business said "not many" applied for the job but when someone did and they were offered a trial shift they did not show up. "It's very frustrating and tiring. It's very hard to find anybody," they said.
They believe the reason is obvious, "there's so much money for JobSeeker and JobKeeper in place, they're not going to go back to work, there's no bloody way. They can get the same amount of money without working, what's the point."
They said the advertised role would be paid at the award rate for hospitality and the amount of hours on offer would depend on how much the potential employee wanted to work
Launceston woman Claire Richardson is 37 and has a home and car loan. Said she was out of work throughout much of 2020 despite having seven different licenses and qualifications and applying for what she estimated to be "close to a thousand" jobs.
She said even when she did get the opportunity to have an interview, the process was either slow or fruitless.
"In the last six weeks I had three interviews. One interview I never heard back from, the other one I called back a fortnight later and they told me I didn't get the job, and the other took two weeks to finally get back to me," she said.
Ms Richardson believes the problem is more systemic. She said the "dole bludger" stereotype does not fit and putting the problem down to too much government funding actually manifests a generational attitude against seeking employment.
United Workers Union Tasmanian branch secretary Jannette Armstrong said the current state of the hospitality job market could be put down to the culmination of a number of issues - COVID-19 and long ingrained issues in the industry.
"Particularly with hospitality, which has borne the brunt of the pandemic, there's a lot of risk. There's instability and uncertainty," she said. The union had noticed that a number of hospitality workers were getting away from the sector.
"The last few months a lot of hospo workers are retraining and looking to work in other industries," she said.
She said many of the workers that had left were those with experience.
The award rate for a grade one food and beverage attendant in Tasmania from Monday to Friday is $20.06 an hour for full and part time employees and $25.08 for a casual employee. A full-time employee on award rates earns $762.10 each week.
Australian Workers Union Assistant Secretary for the Tasmanian branch Robert Flanagan said the award rate for many jobs was simply not good enough.
"Look at what employers are offering in terms of pay. Employers want to pay as little as possible for jobs to be done, people need a living wage not a minimum wage," he said.
A possible solution
Vice-president of the Career Development Association of Australia and Tasmanian career consultant Linda Jeffrey said the debate is not so clear cut.
"There could be movement on both sides," she said.
"Employers need to be more open, flexible and broad .... Employees need to be realistic about what they choose to apply for."
Ms Jeffrey said that employers might advertise a job that has not been vacant for some time, and in that time the parameters of the position might have changed.
"What employers are asking for is not necessarily what they need. Sometimes employers struggle to know what they need," she said.
As for employees Ms Jeffrey said it was common for job seekers to become frenetic when they embark on the job hunt and apply for jobs left, right and centre.
But she said voluminous applying can actually be an inhibitor.
"Applying for everything can clog up the process," she said.
"You need to be selective about what you apply for and put effort into your applications."
Ms Jeffrey also said it was important for applicants to understand their skill set to be able to apply for relevant jobs. She said, adults in particular, often miscalculate their skills on one hand, then undersell their strengths on the other.
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