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An unpopular opinion on tackling unemployment.

So here’s the thing. Unemployed people in Australia are required to fulfill a mutual obligation with their job search providers to be able to qualify for Social Security benefits. While this is fair enough, people should be required to help themselves, I’m not overly impressed so far with either the job search providers or the Government’s response to helping people find a job.  Frankly, I’m beginning to believe the Government would prefer the unemployed to just be unemployed, quiet and possibly dead.

Given the amount of newsprint dedicated to the dole bludger narrative it wouldn’t surprise me if you thought I was bit nuts to believe the Government doesn’t want us to work. I’m sure, somewhere, it does but actually creating employment policies to support unemployed people find work, rather than divert money to private industry, seems to be a bit beyond this government’s ability.

In my last post, I wrote about my experience with a job search agency in my hometown. I wrote about the interview – less than eight minutes – and the farewell. I wrote about how they informed me they couldn’t help me for 13 weeks, but if I was still unemployed at that point they could. They also talked to me about how important it was for them to be the ones to contact Centrelink if I found a job within the 13 weeks where they did nothing at all to help or support me.

One part of the job hunt I find completely counterproductive is this arbitrary ’20 jobs a fortnight’ obligation. How exactly does that do anything to help you find a job? I mean let’s be honest, finding 20 jobs to apply for in a fortnight is easy. You can easily apply for 20 jobs over a 10 day period. It’s only two jobs a day. It takes zero effort particularly now 99 percent of job hunting is done online.

But what quality are the applications?

I used to call these applications the “flick and stick” applications in my last job. I could always tell when an application was sent in to fill a quota. Resume, bad grammar, a cover letter that told me nothing at all about the candidate’s experiences.

9 times out of 10, if you called them for an interview,  they wouldn’t even remember applying for the position in the first place.

There has to be a better way for unemployed people in Australia to actually job hunt. Obligations can easily be met, however, just applying for a random number of jobs to fulfill a quota gets you nowhere and it floods recruiters inboxes. Whenever I’d have a job available about 80 percent were obviously not interested. Sifting through them to find the 20 percent was a waste of time.

Today, I took over 90 minutes to complete one job application. I probably won’t hear back from them. Between the cover letter, the editing, proofreading, re-writing, tidying up the resume to highlight skill sets etc, 90 minutes is nothing to put into an application. If I’m lucky I’ll probably get an automatic email acknowledging the application.

When I was younger – a lot younger – I was unemployed during a recession. At the time I was a High School dropout with no skills, experience, or ability to find a job. I ended up in a Centrelink sponsored Certificate IV course at a training company in Gosford. Not long after I had the qualification; I had a job. Actually, the job was one I got during the course.

I’m not saying courses are the only way people can get new jobs but I am saying it helped me when nothing else could. It wasn’t just the certificate I achieved either, that was the least of the benefits I received if I’m honest.

Going into the training centre daily, learning skills, learning how to deal with people,  the value of consistency of effort. That course changed my life. It wasn’t the last course or the hardest course, I’ve completed over the years but it was the first that showed me more than a curriculum. It taught me valuable lessons about how it was going to be to be employed. It gave me self-respect at a time I believed I was nothing at all.

To have the Government or the press deriding unemployed people as bludgers is demoralising. Sure it sells sad rag newspapers but it does nothing to help the unemployed help themselves. Yes, there are people who don’t want to work but the vast majority of unemployed Australians do want a job. While politicians talk down to the unemployed about ‘doing anything’ or “work gives you purpose’ there are people out there who are job hunting into the void.

Job hunting may now be easier thanks to the internet, but the ease of use has nothing to do with it when it comes to getting your application noticed in a sea of “crap, I need three more jobs this fortnight” applications.

Last fortnight I fulfilled my obligation without even knowing if I was going to be approved for Centrelink assistance. I applied for my 20 jobs. Of those jobs, I have heard back from eight organisations, well 10 actually (I got two more rejection emails today). Not one of them rang to interview me, not one of them followed up in any way. Each of them sent me a generic form email thanking me for application and advising in this instance I didn’t have the qualifications.

Interesting sidenote: I’ve been a conference producer for a decade now. One of the jobs I was rejected from today, for insufficient experience, was as a Conference Producer at an Association. Apparently, ten years of commercial conference experience is not enough to know what you’re doing.

The sad part about this is that those who have the power to make a change for the better in the lives of people who are unemployed lack the fortitude or interest in setting policy that will actually help. Instead, they continue to talk about how ‘tax cuts’ will release pressure and allow for more people to be hired. This is just not true. And the hardest part to accept is, our government knows it.

They know trickle down economics does not work. There is nowhere in the world where trickle down economics has successfully been used to stimulate the economy. What it does is stimulate the bank balances of the rich, the investors.

The Australian Government is looking to reduce the minimum wage, to make it cheaper for businesses to hire staff, ignoring the fact that with fewer dollars in the employee’s pockets there is a reduction in spending, therefore a reduction in taxes.

It is time the Australian Government took itself and our people seriously. While the Turnbull Government continues to claim it doesn’t create jobs, businesses do there is a generation of people, both young and older, who are being left behind.

Do you know that you’re considered part of the ‘mature-age workforce’ at the age of only 45? You’re welcome.

Instead of installing Work for the Dole, a ridiculous Howard era program that gave zero in the way of transferable work skills the Australian Government needs to seriously look at what they can do to stimulate the economy and grow the employment sector. The face of employment across the world is changing. Automation, for example, is reducing the need for many jobs as 1 robot on a factory floor and 1 man in front of a computer can do the work of 100 people.

Australia’s Prime Minister and his Government need to stop talking about innovation and start actually doing something to innovate, or it’s going to take more than 20 random applications a fortnight for anyone to get a job that lasts more than 6 months.

 

 

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