A blog on issues affecting Australia's newsagents, media and small business generally.

Where are the people looking for work?

I know of several retail businesses looking for employees right now, and struggling to attract applicants.

Above award rates have not attracted people, nor has reasonable roster flexibility for the casual roles.

Is it that retail has lost some appeal? Has Covid made people wary of casual work?

Where has the usual pool of uni students who would take these roles gone?

I’m not suggesting people who could apply are bludging or that government benefits for the unemployed are too high. I don’t support those tiresome and unsubstantiated views.

It does feel like something has changed. A year or two ago, a retail manager ad offering $60,000 a year would attract 30 applicants in a couple of days. Now, you are lucky to get one applicant. Like I said, it feels like something has changed.

Maybe there are less international students and the roles they would take for 20 hours a week are being taken by people who might otherwise apply for retail casual roles.

In terms of full time, maybe people who may have moved jobs 2 years ago now stay because they don’t want to be in a new role while Covid is in the community.

Regardless of the reason, it is challenging at the moment to full vacancies.

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  1. Colin

    The loss of students, covid, security reasons you touch on are all part of the mix. But the big change is more fundamental.

    Retail is not seen as a career. The closure of retail chains, growth of internet, low wages on short shifts all shout out there are better options to those with ambition.

    Add the shift away from CBD working, the inflexibility and affordability of housing. Why would anyone apply for full time role where living costs are 50% of wages.

    These issues are not going away, indeed it is likely to get worse for retail employers.

    Train and promote from within will be the future. Especially true for the channel which is at a disadvantage in competing for bright talent.

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  2. Mark Fletcher

    $60,000 a year plus some allowances, engagement with two significant online businesses connected to the store, a career path out of shop floor retail. Colin, these are all on the table and countering to the reasons you give.

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  3. Graeme Day

    Coln, I believe most (over 50%) of what you say here is correct, however it need’nt be.
    Statistics are the take of past performances.
    if we sit back and let it happen it will.My statement here is…. if you let it happen, it will happen to you. If you make it happen it will happen for you.
    irrespective of the economic changes there are winners and losers. The difference is circumstances, some of which unfornunately unavoidable and others that present opportunities.
    Life goes on with embracing the future not the yesterday or even the today gloomy statistics for they are just a measure of the past and not a forecast for the future.
    So with the diagnosis of what you say and I agree with let’s see what positive outcomes we can achieve given our strong customer base.
    Do have any suggestions going forward..no just you Colin, anyone?

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  4. Colin

    Mark,

    Wasn’t criticizing your package which appears competitive. The lack of applicants shows there are other factors at play. We have noticed for some time there has been a diminishing number of quality applicants, it is not a new phenomenon, but it has accelerated. Retail is not alone in this trend, a colleague tells me the motor industry is also finding it difficult to recruit. Engineers, fitters, technicians are leaving the industry. Again an industry with an uncertain future, one that provides an uncertain career options.

    It is interesting that retail faces a recruitment issue when there should be a pool of talent available. Many shops and some chains did not survive the pandemic. Where are these people ? Not tempted to return to retail it seems.

    In the longer term, retail may appear more attractive and recruitment issues may ease. But for the short term, with memories vivid, CBD’s shunned, borders closed … it would be wise to adopt the attitude that employees are precious and not easily replaced.

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  5. Mark Fletcher

    I think the issue is beyond retail.

    I have three roles going in by software company, each new headcount roles, highly skilled very well paid. One filled relatively easily, the second appears likely to be filled and the third we are finding it hard.

    Each of these roles depends on excellent tech skills, that have not been the focus of govt / education settings in recent years because they have, instead invested in game development and graphic design.

    As I noted in the post there are factors at play, including, for the moment at least, a reluctance to switch jobs because some government support has been tied to longevity in a role.

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  6. Colin

    Agree. Housing is also a very big issue.

    The cost and practicality of moving house is taking flexibility out of the labour market.

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