25/07/2013 - 09:10

Unemployment pressures for job services

25/07/2013 - 09:10

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Unemployment pressures for job services
ON THE LOOKOUT: Community First International’s Neil Curnow is bearing witness to the growing number of jobseekers. (Photo: Attila Csaszar)

Employment services firm Community First International has reported an influx of jobseekers as Western Australia’s unemployment rate hits a three-year high.

In the past three months there has been a 3.5 per cent increase in the number of people looking for work through the firm. The increase goes against a seasonal trend in which the number of people seeking work falls or, at least, flattens out mid-year.

Community First is a not-for-profit organisation contracted by the federal government to find jobs for people receiving unemployment benefits.

Given that the jobs market has tightened for even the most able workers, those with whom Community First typically works are finding themselves at the bottom of the queue.

Chief executive Neil Curnow told Business News there were fewer opportunities for disadvantaged jobseekers due to the increasing number of skilled people looking for work.

“That reflects the way in which the economy is turning; people with skills who would normally be able to find work don’t have that opportunity so they’re coming (to us); they have the ability to work but they just don’t have the opportunity,” Mr Curnow said.

In response, Community First has undertaken different strategies to accommodate jobseekers, such as placing more into training programs and work experience in the absence of full-time work.

When it comes to working with employers that do have jobs available, Mr Curnow said Community First had to do more to make placing people in those roles viable for the business.

“It’s really about trying to work as closely as possible with employers to identify places where we can place people; opportunities are going to reduce so we have to work harder with employers to address their ongoing needs,” he said.

In some cases that meant subsidising wages until the business can justify paying a full-time employee.

David George, who is director of WA’s fourth largest employment services firm, Michael Page International, has also witnessed the tightening in the labour market.

“Some clients seem to be a bit more nervous; we’re placing a lot more temporary and contract roles as people work out what is going on and whether it’s as bad as some think,” Mr George said.

“It’s important to state that we are used to very good conditions and at the moment we’ve just come back down to normal conditions like what it’s been like for the rest of Australia for a number of years.”

 

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