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For those reading this from outside Australia, Centrelink operates as one of the largest disbursing agency of social security payments in Australia and is known by most Australians as where to go if you are unemployed to claim your unemployment benefits.

Now for many people, Centrelink provides a vital service and for that, I don’t claim that it does anything wrong. Naturally, with any large organisation, mistakes get made, paperwork gets lost, whatever – I myself have had issues with them in the past, but this is not the purpose of my post today.

My issue with Centrelink today is with the Newstart Allowance, an unemployment benefit and the obligation to attend Job Services Australia-licensed agencies to assist with job seeking.

The agencies that the unemployed are sent to are geared almost entirely towards the blue-collar. There is no support for those people who are:

  • seeking white-collar office work
  • actively seeking work (and when I say active, I mean people submitting 20+ job applications a week, as opposed to those submitting 10 applications a fortnight and still going through their mate’s family members to get around it)
  • degree qualified in something useful that the market is looking for

These are just a few examples that I have gone through in the past. The Job Services Australia agencies never know how to deal with me. They know they can’t send me to any blue-collar jobs because I am not suited for any of them, they don’t have any jobs on their books that are white-collar jobs so they are stuck with me on their books until I find myself a job.

While it may sound to many people like I am complaining for my circumstances, I say this because the Australian economy is facing a substantial change in employment in the next few years. It is my firm belief that there will be a dramatic shift in the employment of certain sectors of the economy in the next few years. Specifically:

  • Another drop in the iron ore price could see a shift in resource projects towards coal seam gas and floating LNG projects. This means less engineers on shore and less staff in office towers to support them – this means less highly skilled staff needed.
  • The finance industry is going through a fundamental shift at the moment, and share brokers who do not adjust will find themselves without jobs in the next 5 – 10 years
  • Public relations, advertising and marketing firms who have not already grasped the social media and mobile app spheres with both hands and embraced it in some way will have to shed staff to deal with the dramatic changes, as new firms enter the market with this knowledge already inbuilt into their entire culture.

Centrelink is not built to account for these people on their books. It is my firm belief that the Department of Human Services needs to seriously look at how it could deal with a sudden influx of highly educated unemployed people who have been used to working in specific fields but find that Job Services Australia are unable to find anything in their field.

This will lead to substantial frustration among job seekers (as it has with me) and possibly result in an increased brain drain going to other parts of the country or indeed other parts of the world looking for work. While Australian firms have looked to the United States in the past for employees, under the right circumstances, American firms could cherry pick the best of the best Australian employees to work in America.

These are just my thoughts on the matter, and perhaps the issue is merely flexibility of potential employees – I know that I’ve changed direction several times over the last few years but I’m sure that my thoughts are not the first to have been thought on this matter.

I’d be interested to hear what you have to say – comment below.

Cheers

Chris

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