26 April, 2021
Jobs, jobs, jobs
SHOPS across the region are in dire need of workers as “staff wanted” signs appear across shop windows.
A quick SEEK search shows that there are currently 91 advertised positions within a 50km radius of Longreach.
While the Federal Government is urging Australians to holiday in their own backyard, there appears to be little support to the Outback operators who are already struggling with the increase in travelers.
Longreach Tavern Business owner, Kim Trad said while tourism in town was great, they are all desperately in need of good staff.
“It is a bit of Murphy's Law, yes we want people to come here and travel, but we don’t have enough staff out here to work,” said Ms Trad.
“I like to hire backpackers, but the issue is, is that they cannot stay in one business for more than six months.
“We cannot sponsor them as a bartender as it is not counted as a skilled profession.
“Rowan (a backpacker working at the pub) may one day buy the pub off me, he may go onto be a manager but because he has no formal qualifications, it is not recognised for sponsorship.
“He can’t stay in Australia without coming under a set of criteria that the government sets and unfortunately being bar manager at my pub isn’t one of them.
“Rowan could go and get a certificate n hospitality and TAFE but that means nothing compared to hands-on experience.”
Mrs Trad said farms had been experiencing similar problems finding pickers.
“We just need to talk hard facts here, Australians won’t go pick, but backpackers will,” she said.
“We have talked to farmers who come in and they say, they have had to throw the crop out as they had no one to pick.”
Rowan Welch is an English backpacker currently working at the Longreach Tavern, said even though he felt confident in the role, because he does not have a certification, he can only stay a maximum of six months.
“I would like that guarantee that if I work here and commit to a job and a life within the community, I won't just be kicked out,” he said.
“It's an exchange, that if I stay and help the tourism industry here, I won’t be booted out of the country or my job where I have set up a life.
“We as backpackers use Facebook groups to find jobs, but the number of regional jobs in pubs and motels across the outback are also struggling for people.
“Everyone is crying out for regional staff, it’s not just Queensland and it’s not just Longreach, it's everywhere,” said Mr Welch.
Albajaz Motor Inn Business Owner, Rodd Halkett said his business suffered due to the lack of workers.
“We just can’t get the staff,” he said.
“We have nine on the books, and we are closing up rooms as no one can turn up for the shift.”
A spokesperson from The Department for Employment, Small Business, Training, and Skills Development said it was one of the highest priorities of the Queensland Government is to assist Queenslanders across the State into jobs.
“The State Government’s Small Business Roadshow visited Longreach in early March 2021 as the final stop on the state-wide fact-finding tour,” they said.
“Small business owners, who attended the roadshow throughout the state, raised concerns about skills shortages and the challenges of attracting and retaining motivated and trained staff.
“This was an issue highlighted by small businesses in all parts of the state and across a range of industries.”
The spokesperson said tackling work shortages in regional towns were a part of the state’s economic recovery plan.
“Free training programs have been extended to those Queenslanders under 25 to give them the best chance securing a rewarding career,” they said.
“The free TAFE for under 25s program is available across the state.”
In the Longreach local government area (LGA) 42 eligible young people are taking advantage of free training, with 40 eligible students training in free apprenticeships and two studying under the free TAFE program.”
“The State Government’s investment in training to ensure Longreach has skilled workers includes Skilling Queenslanders for Work projects and the Back to Work (BTW) program.”