Economy

Jobless in Perth

DAVID PEKEL

On January 21, Chadly Moore, 26, was made redundant from his job as a machine operator at Orica Australia.

Mr Moore and his fiancé Kirsty Bassanelli, 22 had recently started building a house in Perth’s southern suburbs which placed considerable financial strain on the family which also includes the couple’s baby son, Tayte.

Even with the month notice he got from Orica Australia and a redundancy payout, Mr Moore describes his situation as “shit”.

Mr Moore searches for an elusive job

Orica Australia is a manufacturing company that supplies products and services to mining companies around Australia. It was forced to close its Welshpool premises after failing to secure vital contracts.

The closure is a very real indicator that the mining sector has gone off the boil.

The resources sector in Western Australia employs a relatively small number of workers, accounting for about eight per cent of employment – but its flow on effects are enormous and its performance directly affects several other industries including manufacturing.

WA Chamber of Commerce and Industry senior economist Ryan Buckland says that the last 12 to 18 months has seen the labour market soften. He attributes this to the slowdown in the resources sector.

Mining in particular has seen a rapid decrease in available jobs with only 20,000 jobs created in 2013 compared to an average of 40,000 jobs in each of 2011 and 2012.

The slowdown in the resources sector has the dual effect of decreasing demand for manufactured products and increasing the level of unemployment which creates extra competition for jobs in Perth.

This is the situation that Mr Moore faces seeking a job.

He says it is “very competitive out there”.

For one job he applied for, more than 200 other people also applied.

Mr Moore said this large number of applicants contained many former miners who he said were “pinching all the jobs”.

The slowdown in the resources sector is not just affecting the demand for workers but also changing the demand for skills.

John Comstire, a case manager for St Barholomew’s House, an East Perth based group that among other things helps people re-enter the workforce, says the job market is now “requiring greater skills for employment”.

Mr Comstire says unskilled workers are finding it more difficult to stay employed.

Mr Moore gained his forklift ticket through work at Orica but does not possess any other qualifications. He says the idea of higher education remains out of reach due to its high cost.

He has dismissed going to Centrelink for assistance saying that the application process is too complex.

But he remains optimistic, saying he’ll get a job “eventually, [it’s] just a matter of when”.

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