Release type: Transcript

Date:

Interview - ABC Sunshine Coast, Breakfast with Sarah Howells

Ministers:

The Hon Luke Howarth MP
Assistant Minister for Youth and Employment Services

Subjects: Jobs Fairs in Caloundra and Mooloolaba

SARAH HOWELLS:

The economy has been a bit topsy-turvy lately, hasn’t it? With the pandemic, there have been winners and losers. Tourism and hospitality have suffered, while also seeing booming demand in some sectors. Retail, kind of the same story. Some industries are seeing staffing shortages and on the other hand, for some workers, it’s so difficult to get a foot in the door that they have withdrawn from the job market. 
So, what can be done? Well, the Federal Government has an idea. They’re hosting two job fairs in our region this week; in Caloundra and in Mooloolaba. 

Assistant Minister for Youth and Employment Services, Luke Howarth MP, joins you this morning. Good morning.

LUKE HOWARTH:

Good morning, Sarah. Great to be with you this morning.

SARAH HOWELLS:

Great to have you with us as well. And bringing some job fairs to our region as well, how important are things like job fairs during this turbulent time?

LUKE HOWARTH:

Well look, I think it’s a great opportunity for people looking for work or changing roles or wanting to get back into the workforce, because COVID-19 obviously has given people the opportunity to think about what they want to do with their lives as well and some people will change careers in this time. And what the jobs fairs particularly do that’s important, is it connects employers with employees directly. So, it’s different from a careers expo. At the jobs fair, there's actually jobs on offer there today. At Caloundra today there's actually 654 jobs on offer.

SARAH HOWELLS:

Wow – 654 jobs. So, is it mainly that kind of retraining that we've been hearing about that this is targeting? People jumping into new careers?

LUKE HOWARTH:

There is. But we've also got a bit of a shortage, a labour shortage in Australia at the moment. During COVID, we lost like probably half a million skilled workers that were out here on work visas – from people working from overseas that went back home. So, we need more Australians to jump into the workforce right now because with international borders being closed, there's been a real skills shortage. Not everyone wants to work in the regions, but we're seeing that changing now as more people are moving out of the cities and into the regions. And up at Caloundra, as I say, there's a lot of jobs on offer there today. There's also 81 apprenticeships there today, so some really good opportunities. If you're thinking about looking for work or changing careers, you don't want to miss this jobs fair today because it won't be back until next year sometime.

SARAH HOWELLS:

So, the jobless rate is sitting at 4.6 per cent at the moment – this isn't the full picture. Of course, large numbers of Australians leaving the job market altogether. With the participation rate dropping, are these fairs part of the Government's response?

LUKE HOWARTH:

They definitely are because you're absolutely right. I think the 4.6 per cent is a bit soft because we've seen lockdowns in New South Wales, Victoria, everything else. And as you say, some people have just stopped looking. So yes, this is a great opportunity to connect. Most jobs now are found through networking, and that face-to-face connection, you can't underestimate that. So, going into one place and having 654 jobs on offer and 81 apprenticeships with 40 different exhibitors to talk to you there. So, I think there's like 38 employers that will have booths there today.
So, the way it'll work is, is as people walk into the jobs fair, all 654 jobs will be on a board and then there'll be a booth number, and they’ll say go to booth three and you can talk there about meat processing, or go to booth eight and you can talk there about an apprentice chef, or go to booth 12 and you can talk about disability and childcare – and those jobs will be there. 

So really important face-to-face connection for people walking in today, and there'll be a lot of people there to help. So, our department, the Department of Education, Skills and Employment in the Australian Government, there'll be a lot of people there in brightly coloured vests that you can talk to and ask any question you want.

SARAH HOWELLS:

So, is it kind of like speed dating for employment?

LUKE HOWARTH:

Basically, it's a good way to describe it, Sarah.

SARAH HOWELLS:

[Laughs]

LUKE HOWARTH:

It's a fun day. I've done a number of them now throughout the country, so, you know, in a couple of weeks’ time we've got one in Townsville, then we've got one in Alice Springs. We, we've done them in Tasmania, Perth. But this week, not to be missed on the Sunshine Coast today in Caloundra, and then on Wednesday there's another one at Mooloolaba. 
But today, get along to it. It is at The Events Centre at Caloundra, which is 20 Minchinton Street, Caloundra; and the first sessions at 9:30am and there's a second session at 1pm. 

So, the other thing that listeners should know about, Sarah, as well is that there's free resume writing help there. So you can take your resume along and they'll update it – the experts will look at it and go, oh, look, maybe you could do this, or maybe you could put that in there, that will help land the interview. And then they'll also have an employers’ panel that will have employers that say, this is what we look for when hiring.

You know, we want people with a good work ethic, or we want people that care about their work – whatever it is that they – that's important to them when hiring, they'll explain that to job seekers. And that really gives them a foot in the door that other people just applying online won't have. 
So, I just can't stress how important it is for people to go to this today at Caloundra. Great opportunity and won't be back till next year. So, as I said, there'll be jobs in aged care, construction, hospitality, defence, transport, bus drivers, they’re after cleaners and sanitisers, the insurance industry, pickers and packers, labourers, senior IT developers. So, there's a whole range of jobs for different people.

SARAH HOWELLS:

Alright. And as you say, you've been doing this in the other regions already, there's been a few already happening. What's the success rate been like of connecting people with jobs?

LUKE HOWARTH:

It's definitely been good, so people have – I was up in Bundaberg about a month ago and people were getting jobs on the day, and then a number of them got jobs a couple of weeks later. But it really is up to people. Like some people just walk in and walk out, alright? You, you can spend two hours there if you want. So, it's open – each session is open for two and a half hours. So, I'd encourage people to go in, there’s coffee there; grab a coffee that the department will put on, and just spend time talking to people and looking at the board. And go to every booth and just connect. 

And if you can pick up one or two little practical points today from the Australian Government's Jobs Fair, it'll really make a difference to your life. And you know, we want people in full-time work, financially viable, looking after their own lives and achieving the goals that they want. And this is a great opportunity. 

There’s never been a better time to get a job than right now with the labour shortages that we have in the regions, so that's why I'm really pushing for people to attend today, Sarah. 

SARAH HOWELLS:

The pandemic has really rocked the employment market on the coast. Is there more in the pipeline to support our region and others like ours that have been thrown by the pandemic?

LUKE HOWARTH:

Well, we're doing, we're doing a number of things. Like, we're helping people into training as well. So, with the state governments, we're going 50-50 in a package called JobTrainer that basically gives people free training, or low fee training. So that's, that's been really good to upskill people that want to change industries. 

The issue we're having but is, whilst people are studying then they're not working. And so, we also have job shortages well. So, it's not so much that the jobs aren't there, they are there – we just need people to engage and go for it. And as I said, with all those people having left the country, there's a great opportunity. You might not have worked for two or three years, but now is the time to actually get in, into the market – so people are hungry to employ people. 

SARAH HOWELL:

Alright. Well … 

LUKE HOWARTH:

[Interrupts] But we also have the Local Jobs Program through the Department of Education, Skills and Employment. So, in every employment region, including on the Sunshine Coast, we actually have a Local Jobs Program that connects people on JobSeeker with jobs through our jobactive providers. And I should mention today, the Sunshine Coast Council is also partnering with the Federal Government today, so, we do want to thank the Sunshine Coast Council for helping fund, I guess, the Jobs Fair today. I believe they're helping with the venue and so forth – so good job to them.

SARAH HOWELLS:

Fabulous. Well, thank you so much for your time this morning and letting us know a bit more about that. I'm sure there'll be a lot of people heading along to the Caloundra Jobs Fair today at the Event Centre, and the Mooloolaba Jobs Fair on Friday as well. They're free, but make sure you register to ensure those COVID-19 safety guidelines are met as well. Thanks for your time this morning.

LUKE HOWARTH:

Thanks so much. Have a great day.

SARAH HOWELLS:

That's Assistant Minister for Youth and Employment Services, Luke Howarth, MP. And yes, those job fairs free, but do register today in Caloundra and on Friday in Mooloolaba.