Murraylands, Mallee employers 'crying out' for workers

Jodie Hawkes (Bowhill Engineering), Ben Scales (Mid-Murray Council chief executive), Jeremy Hawkes (Bowhill Engineering), Member for Barker Tony Pasin, Dave Burgess (Mid Murray council mayor), Mandy and Michael Caines (Bowhill General Store), Jeff Hall (Mid Murray Council), Shane McGrath (Bowhill Progress Association) and Clive Hampel (Mid Murray Council).
Jodie Hawkes (Bowhill Engineering), Ben Scales (Mid-Murray Council chief executive), Jeremy Hawkes (Bowhill Engineering), Member for Barker Tony Pasin, Dave Burgess (Mid Murray council mayor), Mandy and Michael Caines (Bowhill General Store), Jeff Hall (Mid Murray Council), Shane McGrath (Bowhill Progress Association) and Clive Hampel (Mid Murray Council).

Employers across the Murraylands and Mallee are 'crying out for staff' to fill positions, according to Member for Barker Tony Pasin.

Data collated by Mr Pasin shows more than 1000 jobs are available across his electorate right now, with about 770 based in the Murraylands and Mallee.

"Over the past couple of months I've spoken to employers who are crying out for staff to fill positions and they say they are just not getting the job applications," Mr Pasin said.

The positions are a mix of full-time, part-time, casual and seasonal, and are in a variety of industries and sectors.

"Over half of (the 1000-plus jobs) are full time across a range of industries including heath care, hospitality, engineering and construction, agriculture and food processing," Mr Pasin said.

"I'm not talking necessarily about seasonal work. I'm not talking about fruit picking, although these are certainly available too but, a lot of the jobs I'm hearing about are full-time, well paid, ongoing jobs with promising career paths in interesting industries."

Mr Pasin said that while the unemployment rate rose across the country as businesses closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, the assertion that there are no job opportunities was wrong.

He said the federal government was helping businesses endure the pandemic and was making sure organisations and owners had "unprecedented economic support" because if businesses had the necessary support, then so did jobs.

"I'm living in regional SA and I'm hearing directly from employers and they are telling me they have the jobs and they need people to fill them," Mr Pasin said.

"We have a strong focus on a business-led economic recovery and given this, it's devastating to hear that businesses in my electorate are struggling to find staff."

Bowhill Engineering is one of the region's employers looking for staff, and owner Jodie Hawkes said it was puzzling that the range of positions had not attracted many applications.

"I have spoken with other people across our industry and also other people in our region, and it's a common theme - right down to the general store here, they're looking for casual workers and also a chef," Ms Hawkes said.

She said there was a range of jobs available, from those needing little experiences to highly-qualified roles.

"We're always looking for senior boilermakers and metal fabricators, but some of the newer jobs are a team leader for metal fabrication and paint blaster," she said.

When hiring someone for a position, Ms Hawkes said the business looked at the way applicants would gel with the team.

"We're all about people fitting our values and beliefs and culture; we more-so believe that we can train people in skills, send them off to do a course, but not for values," she said.

"We're passionate about employing young people and showing youth that you can have a career without leaving regional South Australia."

She said Bowhill Engineering had been lucky during the pandemic, as its projects had been deemed essential work.

"I fully appreciate how hard it has been for many people," she said. "With the JobSeeker (payment) being reduced, it will be interesting to see how many applications we get."

The jobs on offer at Bowhill Engineering are a combination of keeping up with demand for the company's services and replacing long-term staff who had left.

"We are growing - we had 40 per cent growth last year, and we want to sustain that," she said.

The company has been busy working on projects such as the Southern Expressway, Adelaide's North-South Corridor andRegency Road to Pym Street projects.

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