By Melissa Halsey.
Member for Maroochydore Fiona Simpson said youth unemployment on the Sunshine Coast was a major worry and the lack of jobs was affecting university students.
“I am also concerned about the level of under-employment as many people are employed in casual positions in the tourism and retail sectors which can be vulnerable to sudden change, resulting in a reduction in the number of hours or shifts available,” Ms Simpson said.
“With much of our local economy being driven by tourism, the Sunshine Coast can be impacted by the strength of the Australian dollar and major flood events, as we have experienced in recent years.
“Thus we need to build a more diverse and resilient regional economy.”
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in June 2015 the youth unemployment rate was at 13.0 per cent and the average duration of unemployment on the Sunshine Coast was 72 weeks.
Ms Simpson said deepening the jobs base on the Coast beyond construction, tourism and retail was vital to not only having more jobs, but jobs that paid well.
“These industries are still important, but so are these new jobs in health, technology and service,” she said.
“That’s one of the reasons we strongly supported bringing forward the construction of the $1.8 billion Sunshine Coast Public University Hospital while in government.
“It is a major boost for the regional economy, providing 11,000 jobs during construction and 2500 hospital jobs when it opens in 2016.”
Ms Simpson said studying was vitally important, but it was essential to choose the right course and invest in training that would lead to a job.
Bachelor of Business graduate Tori Wells, 21, said she has been searching for jobs all over Australia.
Miss Wells said the supply of jobs on the Coast did not meet the demand of people.
“I apply on average for two or three jobs per week, even just at lower level positions so I can get my foot in the door,” she said.
“I think lack of jobs comes from people such as myself coming here for university and then not wanting to leave.
“It means everyone is competing with their fellow students for the same few jobs.”
HRM Contracting & Consulting director Sally Desch said she firmly believed the job situation would improve.
“Construction and health are the two big predicted areas of growth on the Sunshine Coast,” she said.
“Fortunately a by-product of the growth in these areas is that many services need to support this growth so increasing employment in a wide range of fields.”
Mrs Desch said it was important to have a balance of study and practical work knowledge.
“The work experience does not need to be in the a particular field that you are studying, but a work history showing reliability, team work and a work ethic coupled with a degree will definitely enhance your opportunities,” she said.