When Michelle Simm applied for a job at a Gold Coast storage centre this month, she was told 800 other job seekers had sent in their CVs.
When Michelle Simm applied for a job at a Gold Coast storage centre this month, she was told 800 other job seekers had sent in their CVs.

Ten areas where Queenslanders have lost the most jobs

Southerners fleeing lockdowns are hunting for jobs in Queensland as sacked locals struggle to find work after the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out one in 40 jobs.

Young workers are losing jobs twice as fast as middle-aged employees, fuelling fears they may never afford to buy homes or have children.

But as Queenslanders cling to jobs or fight to find new ones, southern jobseekers hoping to settle in the Sunshine State are competing for scarce work.

Nearly half the job applications sent to a top Queensland recruitment firm are from other states - with most from locked-down Victoria.

As the Palaszczuk government spruiks its crisis management, The Sunday Mail can reveal the financial pain of the pandemic statewide.

Lockdowns and border closures have smashed tourism, hospitality and retail, culling one in 40 payroll jobs.

In Brisbane's CBD and inner suburbs, one in 18 jobs has vanished. Surfers Paradise has been hardest hit, with one in 13 workers laid off.

Firms are being flooded with applications for jobs, with 800 people applying for a front-desk job at a Gold Coast storage centre this month.

Craig Sneesby says there are more applicants than jobs.
Craig Sneesby says there are more applicants than jobs.

U & U Recruitment Partners managing director Craig Sneesby said interstate applications had doubled in recent months, with one southern applicant for every local.

"Traditionally we'd receive 25 per cent of applications from outside Queensland but now it's 45 per cent," he said. "About 30 per cent of our job applications are out of Melbourne - they're wanting to get away from COVID restrictions and come to a safer place."

Mr Sneesby said four times more people were applying for each job in frontline roles, such as receptionists, compared to last year.

"We're getting 300 or 350 applications per role," he said.

"We recently advertised a CIO (chief information officer) role, the head of IT for a major utility, and we received 500 applications when typically we would expect 150.

"We're going to reject 499 people - that's a 0.2 per cent chance of landing a job which is incredibly poor odds."

Job losses have pushed the state's unemployment rate to 7.5 per cent - higher than the national average of 6.7 per cent. And 9.3 per cent of workers are underemployed in "junk jobs" working as little as an hour a week in casual or "gig" jobs.

Centre for Future Work senior economist Alison Pennington warned a generation of young people could miss out on stable jobs, home ownership and having children.

"Full-time jobs are being replaced by smaller part-time jobs that are more likely to be insecure and casual," she said.

"We will have a generation … locked out of decent work, owning a home, making a family and building a sense of belonging in Australia.

"And we're looking at hundreds of thousands of older workers who'll be piecing together an income through low-skilled part-time jobs, biding their time before they can get the pension."

Unemployment rates are the worst they have been in years but some employers can't find staff, with one Townsville business owner having to close due to a lack of workers.

Terry Brown, general manager of Kazza's Barber Shops, has been in business since 1994, expanding from a barber in Airlie Beach to now running seven barbers in Rockhampton, Mackay, Townsville and the Whitsundays.

Mr Brown has spent in excess of $20,000 on advertising to try and find nine hairdressers for his Townsville shop.

Manager of Kazza's Barber shop Emily Lang can't find enough staff to hire to reopen their Willows store. Picture: Shae Beplate.
Manager of Kazza's Barber shop Emily Lang can't find enough staff to hire to reopen their Willows store. Picture: Shae Beplate.

 

He has only had one successful candidate.

"We can't get anybody, nobody, nobody is interested, not a soul," Mr Brown said.

He's used ads on five TV stations, radio channels, billboards, social media platforms and recruitment websites.

"It's not just hairdressers, I've got a mate here who can't find anybody to sell fridges, I've got another mate who owns a Chinese restaurant and he can't even find waiters. It's just a joke," he said.

The Willows Shopping Centre shop has been closed for four months, costing Mr Brown $44,000 in rent.

"I've never seen anything like this, never, never, never, whatever happened to working for the dole? Where is the incentive to go and get a job?" he said. "Well you can't blame them, they get $1100 a fortnight, tax free, and you don't have to look for a job - how wonderful is that?"

When Michelle Simm applied for a job at a Gold Coast storage centre this month, she was told 800 other job seekers had sent in their CVs.

"I lost my job six months ago and it's getting harder and harder," she said. "I'm 55 but I'm fit, healthy, diligent and hard working - I'm not ready for the rocking chair yet.

"It's devastating to think this is the end of my working life when I've got another 10 or 15 years of working and being productive. It's been really upsetting and demoralising."

Michelle Simm has been out of work since April and is doing everything she can to find a new job. Picture: Nigel Hallett
Michelle Simm has been out of work since April and is doing everything she can to find a new job. Picture: Nigel Hallett

Ms Simm (pictured), of Labrador, has applied for 50 jobs since losing her aged care office role in April due to COVID-19 cuts.

She now fears JobMaker wage subsidies for under-35s will make it even harder.

"I believe it will be almost impossible, because it's a no-brainer that struggling businesses are going to take anyone with a cash incentive attached," she said. "I don't know how they can almost discard anyone over 35 as if we didn't have a mortgage and bills to pay and food to put on the table like anyone else."

Ms Simm said she had worked in a call centre for 13 years and is qualified in early childhood education and disability support.

Nationally, the number of unemployed people on the dole has more than doubled, from 684,298 people on the Newstart Allowance in August last year to 1.45 million receiving Jobseeker payments in August this year.

In Queensland, 365,893 people are living on the Jobseeker or youth allowance welfare payments from the federal government.

Another 670,000 Queensland workers are clinging to jobs through the JobKeeper payment and businesses are bracing for more redundancies when the payment is axed next March.

 

Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland industrial relations specialist Michael O'Brien said the manufacturing and construction sectors were struggling and three quarters of Queensland employers had cut back staff hours.

"They call me and it's redundancies, redundancies, redundancies," he said.

"It's the worst it's ever been and we haven't seen the real numbers yet.

"Companies have laid people off, kept their skilled and experienced staff and are hoping for a vaccine.

"(Once JobKeeper payments end) there's going to be a lot of businesses losing a lot of jobs."

Queensland Tourism Industry Council chief executive Daniel Gschwind said COVID-19 travel bans and border closures had halved revenue in the sector, with the loss of $7 billion in foreign tourist spending and most of the $10 billion contributed from interstate visitors.

Queensland Tourism Industry Council boss Daniel Gschwind. Picture: News Corp/Attila Csaszar
Queensland Tourism Industry Council boss Daniel Gschwind. Picture: News Corp/Attila Csaszar

"We are on the front line, and if borders remain closed past November it will be make job losses more likely," Mr Gschwind said.

"Tourism dollars that go into a community circulate over and over - when a visitor stays in a hotel, money goes to the linen service, the greengrocer and the petrol station."

In Port Douglas, Shantara Resort owner Peter Brown said he had lost 70 per cent of revenue this year and laid off two workers, with 10 others depending on JobKeeper.

"If it wasn't for JobKeeper, they'd all be laid off," he said.

"The only way we can get through this crisis is to borrow more money - the bank has deferred loan repayments but in another couple of days it will want interest payments again.

"If (Premier Annastacia Palasczcuk) doesn't open up the borders, we're going to lose everything.

Shantara Resort in Port Douglas. Picture: Supplied
Shantara Resort in Port Douglas. Picture: Supplied

"If we go broke, the staff will lose their jobs and they'll have to pack up their lives and move somewhere else."

Steve Edmondson, the operator of luxury sailing and snorkelling company Sailaway at Port Douglas, said he had lost 80 per cent of revenue and was keeping his staff on JobKeeper payments.

"We don't want sympathy, we just want suitable support so we don't have a carnage among small businesses that are the backbone of the economy and have their houses on the line," he said. "Border closures have dragged on longer than necessary."

Queensland's unemployed and working poor are now turning to charity to help pay bills and buy groceries.

"There are twice as many people looking for work now than before the pandemic, and entry-level jobs have been drying up," Anglicare Australia executive director Kasy Chambers said.

"With so many Queenslanders losing jobs in tourism and hospitality, it's a grim situation."

 

 

JOBS 360 is a roundtable discussion that will explore how we can fix our national jobs crisis.
JOBS 360 is a roundtable discussion that will explore how we can fix our national jobs crisis.

 

On Monday October 12 at 8pm AEDT, News Corp will air its Jobs 360 panel discussion online here.

On Tuesday we will highlight some of the solutions our experts are advocating to head off the crisis and point to almost 100,000 jobs region by region to help those looking for a job get back to work.

- with Cormac Pearson


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