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Is COVID-19 creating a benefits culture in WA?

Updated: Oct 2

The first months of COVID-19 (March to May 2020) led to more than 62,000 job losses in WA, largely in the hospitality sector as cafés, restaurants and hotels closed. In May 2020, 82,800 (8.7%) West Australians were unemployed. While on an international scale this might seem pretty good, it is actually the highest unemployment rate WA has seen since 2010.

Last month, the Australian Bureau of Statistics indicated we should see the unemployment rate drop to 7%. So there you have it, the unemployment rate is going down and our economy is growing. Problem solved. Well… not quite….

Mining leaders are pulling their hair out!! They are only operating at 75-80% capacity, machines are parked up, production targets are not being met and they are posting new jobs for ‘entry level’ workers on a daily basis (many of these jobs start at $90-$110k per year!).

While Australia appears to be leading the way globally through the crisis – I have to sit back and wonder… are we now creating a “benefits culture” in WA? Do people actually want to work?

I’ll go out on a limb and say that we are. Work ethic has always been a concern for me, even when things were ‘normal’. In my opinion, the added financial support from the government and early superannuation access are the main reasons that new job applications have decreased by 70% over the past 6 months.

This is a view shared with a number of mining leaders I have met in the past few months.


Social security should be a safety net, not a lifestyle…

The jobs are there.

If you type ‘Entry Level’ into SEEK for Western Australia today (24/09/20), you will find 1,008 job postings for companies, many of the postings will require 5-10 workers per advert, these are baffling figures.

With government financial support requirements changing over the next few months – I believe we are going to see a steady rise in new job applications. But be warned, this may not see an actual increase in workers; just data to reflect the changing eligibility and requirements for government support.

So, while mining companies in WA continue to be operating at 75-80% capacity, what can be done to help genuine applicants secure employment?

Innovation during a crisis is nothing new; some of the world’s best innovations come from the most challenging times.

We are currently focused on partnering with local training organisations to secure applicants who have a hunger and desire to work and come ready with all the necessary tickets and licences they need for a career in mining.

We are also piloting a new training initiative to secure our candidates their HR Licence, as long as they pass our process and have the desired work history and obtain a National Police Clearance. The early signs have been positive; a few of our ‘test cases’ are currently on-site and loving mining life. Yes, it is a big outlay for us, and quite a risk if they don’t pass. But we are always willing to try something new, and we always ‘have the back’ of good people who genuinely want a career.


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