Anglicare Australia’s Jobs Availability Snapshot uses government data to compare people who have barriers finding work with vacancies at their skill level to determine that state of the employment market and its ability to support people with barriers into employment.
Such barriers to employment may include leaving school early, taking time out of the workforce, having restricted hours, living in an area with few jobs, or living with a mental illness.
“What we have found is a dire market, and a reckoning for an employment system that has been failing people in the greatest need for years” – Anglicare.
This year has been particularly devastating for the jobs market. The COVID-19 pandemic and the economic shutdowns required to manage community transmission have resulted in a steep rise in unemployment and underemployment.
This table provides a comparison of the Employment Market in May 2019 and 2020.
The number of suitable jobs has also shrunk simultaneously to the number of people seeking jobs has significantly increased.
Steam C Categories
As by definition, Stream C categorises those who need the most support to find and keep work and level 5 jobs as these are best suited to people looking for entry-level work, which requires minimal training and experience. In Western Australia in 2020, there are 9.1 people in Stream C for level 5 jobs, compared with 7.5 people in 2019. The WA rate of 9.1 is above the national rate of 7.8.
Those on JobKeeper payments are not included in these figures and are not currently completing the jobs market. Therefore, it can be expected that when the JobKeeper payment reduces and/or ends the number of unemployed and underemployed will significantly increase.
The snapshot also found over half of employers consider experience to be essential for lower skilled vacancies, but many people lack recent experience. This makes its significantly challenging for those who are trying to re-enter employment, as “Research shows the longer people are unemployed, the longer they are likely to remain so.”
Lower skilled jobs are also being filled with people with higher qualifications, creating a cascading effect down the jobs market, adding to the difficulty of lower skilled workers to gain employment.
As these findings show, further government intervention is essential.
Significantly high unemployment and underemployment has a devastating effect on households’ income, coupled with the winding back of government payments, some Australians will be forced below the poverty line. Western Australia is also currently experiencing its lowest vacancy rates in 40 years in the private rental market, with data from REIWA indicating that vacancy rates are currently less than one per cent, This makes it difficult to find a home and driving rental prices up.
The social housing system is significantly undersupplied with over 14,000 people on the waitlist and an unmet need of 39,200 social and 19,300 affordable homes in Western Australia. Furthermore, housing and homelessness services are stretched to capacity, with an increasing demand as a result of the pandemic.
Without adequate housing supply and income, people cannot find a safe and secure home. This will see more people forced into housing stress, evicted from their homes, defaulting on home loans, and becoming homelessness. To prevent a second wave of homelessness and to protect Australians from experiencing housing poverty, government must increase investment into the social and affordable housing system and ensure that our income support system is adequate and not trap people into poverty. Also focus on creating long-term, sustainable, and secure employment opportunities.
The Major Reforms
In the Snapshot Anglicare calls for the government to consider three major reforms:
- A single Liveable Income for everyone who needs it;
- Investment in job creation; and
- Abolition of jobactive. These funds should be reinvested in tailored support and direct job creation for the people who are failed by the private jobs market.
Evidence shows investment in social housing supply will create new jobs. Furthermore, investment into the homelessness services system will create new jobs. This investment will create enduring social value and drive economic and social recovery.
Ultimately, our systems need to be reformed and redesigned to support and include everyone. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown light on the gaps and inadequacies of our employment and housing systems. However, it has also shown the immense capacity, investment and collaboration which can be undertaken to solve problems quickly, proving that ending poverty and homelessness in communities is a possibility.
The Anglicare Job Availability Snapshot 2020 can be found here.