While the figures are an improvement on this time last year, when 10 people were competing for each entry-level job in SA, the Snapshot shows people with significant barriers to work are not benefiting from the COVID-19 economic recovery.
Of the 640,000 people unemployed in Australia, more than 10 per cent have significant barriers to work, for example, older workers who lost their jobs later in life, people living with disability, people experiencing homelessness and young people leaving care and who haven’t completed year 12. This figure has increased from 7.4 per cent in 2020.
AnglicareSA Executive General Manager Community Services, Nancy Penna, said that while the state’s job market for most people has improved somewhat compared to this time last year, the Snapshot shows it is still failing those who are most disadvantaged in their job search and who need the most support.
“The head of labour statistics at the ABS has advised that the low national unemployment rate just released by the ABS, continues to reflect reduced participation in the job market during the recent lockdowns, rather than strong labour market conditions.
“Times remain tough with South Australia having the highest unemployment rate in the nation, and in addition to this, the percentage of jobseekers with significant barriers to work has increased.
For Adelaidean Andrew (42), who lives with an intellectual disability, finding a job where he feels valued and supported hasn’t been easy.
Being largely unemployed for several years, his struggles with severe mental illness, confidence and communication has made it very difficult for him to remain employed.
Since August, Andrew has been working four days a week as a supported employee at Barkuma Holden Hill, which provides general business solutions such as packaging and assembling products for a range of companies.
“This is my first proper, real job,” Andrew said.
“I feel happier and more alive – I have more purpose in life and feel wanted.
“I’d think maybe I’d like to get an independent job, continue to learn more skills and improve my mental health.”
Data from the Department of Education, Skills and Employment shows that jobseekers with significant barriers to work, like Andrew, spend an average of five years looking for work.
SA’s unemployment rate is currently the highest in the country according to the ABS. Ms Penna said direct job creation in vital sectors and providing those doing it tough with the appropriate welfare supports while they look for work remains key.
The national Jobs Availability Snapshot 2021 found that across Australia:
- Three entry-level jobseekers are competing for each job at their skill level.
- More than 10 per cent of these jobseekers have barriers to work (for example, older workers who lost their jobs later in life, people with disabilities, people experiencing homelessness, young people who haven’t finished year 12)
- These jobseekers spend an average of five years looking for work
- On top of that, 1.16 million people are underemployed. They could also be competing for these jobs.