By Ron Maxwell - CEO
Although on many fronts it’s a relief to put 2020 in the rear-view mirror, when it comes to employment, we aren’t out of the woods just yet. It’s not all doom and gloom though, we are seeing growing opportunities in some sectors, and the good news is that there is help at hand.
Today I want to share some of the challenges and opportunities we are already experiencing in 2021, and most importantly, I want to encourage those affected to reach out for support. VERTO has a long history of helping people into life-changing employment and training, and it’s something we will continue to do into 2021 and beyond.
Uncertainty around end of JobKeeper
The end of JobKeeper is looming and it’s a nervous wait for many, particularly smaller businesses and those in heavily impacted industries, like tourism and hospitality. I’ve been talking to local business owners here in Central Western NSW and there is a lot of uncertainty, with many questioning whether they will be able to keep trading. Nobody wants to see another round of wide-spread job losses, but, unfortunately, it’s certainly not out of the question.
Travel restrictions continue to have an impact
In 2020, VERTO worked with some major travel and tourism organisations to reskill and find new opportunities for employees at risk of losing their jobs. While there have been some success stories out of these programs, I hope we have seen the end of large-scale redundancies.
But the news that international travel isn’t likely to be on the cards in 2021 was certainly unwelcome for many. Even domestically as border restrictions change on a regular basis, it’s difficult for hospitality and tourism businesses to predict market demand and staffing requirements.
It’s having an impact on regional Australia too. As someone who travels around our regions regularly for VERTO, I’ve noticed how difficult and sometimes impossible, it is to get a connecting flight between regional centres. Losing these connections between regions and metropolitan areas may make it even harder for regional economies to bounce back.
Mature-aged workers hardest hit but there is support out there
According to Australian National University statistics, nearly a third of people who lost work or had hours cut as a result of COVID-19 are aged 51 to 65.
Losing this extensive experience from our workforce would be a blow to us all, and I am pleased that the government has committed an additional $11.6 million in funding for the Skills Checkpoint program. This is a fantastic initiative for Australians aged 45-70 who have lost or are at risk of losing employment to upskill in their existing industry or reskill to find a new path. If you are in this position, I encourage you to get in touch with VERTO to find out more about Skills Checkpoint.
Apprenticeships and job growth in some sectors a positive sign
Apprenticeships and traineeships are a key employment mechanism, and it was pleasing in 2020 to see the government recognising this with incentives and support for employers and apprentices. I’m pleased to report that in December 2020, VERTO saw the most apprenticeship activity we have ever seen.
We are seeing demand in construction booming, and growth in engineering, community services and even some areas of retail. The retail space will be an interesting one to watch. I was reading an article recently about the retail shift in London – with big brands moving out of CBD locations and into the suburbs to meet the changing way we live, work and shop and it will certainly be interesting to see what unfolds here at home. We may just see more local and regional opportunities in the retail space as a result of our new normal.
If you are looking for an apprenticeship or traineeship, there are over 500 to choose from, and VERTO’s CareerGate is a great place to start. This free, online tool helps to match you with a study option based on your skills and interests and can even help you explore local vacancies in your area.
Healthcare still in demand but there are some barriers
Health and aged care remain high demand industries with largely positive job outlooks. However, attaining qualifications at the moment is a little trickier, with work placements on hold in many roles due to COVID-19 restrictions in health facilities. Many students who have finished their studies haven’t yet qualified because they can’t complete this mandatory component.
It makes sense that aged care providers cannot offer work experience in the current climate, but it does create a challenge for an industry already facing a skills shortage. There is no clear answer to this just yet, but as demand for qualified workers continues to rise, it’s clear that a solution will be required sooner rather than later.
Help is at hand