Businesses struggle to fill vacant positions

Rosanna's Street Food in Bathurst has been unable to fill a vacant position for almost six months. Image: Andrew Lotherington.

Rosanna's Street Food in Bathurst has been unable to fill a vacant position for almost six months. Image: Andrew Lotherington.

BUSINESSES across Central West and Far West NSW are struggling to fill vacant positions despite widespread belief about a lack of jobs in the region.

While there is no doubt that COVID-19 has had a significant impact on employment levels across the country, regional NSW appears to have fared better than most.

Lack of COVID cases, JobKeeper payments, strong seasonal and agricultural industries coupled with supportive local communities, have all helped boost regional economies and keep unemployment levels down.

The NSW unemployment rate is currently sitting at 6.5 per cent, however rates across Western NSW offer much more hope for people seeking work.

ABS Labour Force Data reports that Central West unemployment currently sits at 4 per cent, however youth unemployment (people aged 15 to 24) is more than double that at 9.7 per cent.

Figures for the Far West and Orana region are even better with a 1.7 per cent unemployment rate and youth unemployment slightly higher at 2.4 per cent.

While record low unemployment is great news for people looking for jobs, the opposite can be said for businesses looking for new employees.

Fiona Hall from BiteRiot said the company struggled with a lack of staff across their picking season. Image: Jude Keogh.

Fiona Hall from BiteRiot said the company struggled with a lack of staff across their picking season. Image: Jude Keogh.

Businesses are struggling to find people to fill vacant positions and are relying on workers doing overtime to help fill gaps.

Rosanna from Bathurst's Rosanna's Street Food said she had been trying to fill a position since August in 2020.

She said she hasn't had any serious applicants for the role in almost six months.

"We've had a few people hand their resumes in, yet when we ask them to come in they simply didn't bother," she said.

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"While we only have casual positions available, we are looking for someone for five days a week up to 25 hours per week, so with casual rates- it is a pretty good job.

Rosanna said that they had tried employment agencies before but people either failed to show up or weren't suitable for the role.

"We tried going through an employment agency but it simply didn't work out," she said.

"Social media is a great community tool so we tried posting vacancies on Facebook.

"We had a few people message us after we posted, but again were no-shows when we asked them to come in.

"It's not overly difficult work we do, but there just seems to be a poor attitude out there and an unwillingness to work."

Rosanna's is certainly not alone with hospitality businesses across the region struggling to find enough employees, however it is not just hospitality suffering from a worker shortage.

Executive Recruiter for Spinifex Recruiting, Melinda Barton, said the company had a number of businesses contacting them trying to desperately fill positions. Image: Spinifex Recruiting.

Executive Recruiter for Spinifex Recruiting, Melinda Barton, said the company had a number of businesses contacting them trying to desperately fill positions. Image: Spinifex Recruiting.

The agricultural industry has had a difficult harvest season following a lack of seasonal workers including backpackers, while Government incentives such as high Jobseeker payments have resulted in many people simply not seeking work, causing a flow on effect across a number of industries.

Executive Recruiter for Spinifex Recruiting, Melinda Barton, said they were experiencing issues finding casual and part-time workers for a variety of roles.

"It has been a bit tricky for a while but especially since COVID hit we have seen a number of new clients coming to us for help finding workers," she said.

"The main shortages seem to be around casual and part time positions because most full time or permanent positions are taken up pretty quickly, but the shortage is affecting a wide range of industries.

"There is a perception that casual or part time positions are poorly paid and that jobs in general on this side of the Blue Mountains are not well paid, but it's simply not the case, especially when you factor in living costs.

"We have also seen a tendency due to COVID of people not swapping jobs or industries while they are in safe, regular employment but for anyone looking to change career paths or start fresh, now is the perfect time to complete additional training or upskill and take advantage of job opportunities."

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This story Shortage of workers affecting businesses across Western NSW first appeared on Western Advocate.