YOUTH unemployment in Campaspe Shire is continuing to rise as the coronavirus pandemic wreaks havoc with the local economy.
Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed the unemployment rate among people aged 15 to 24 stood at 30.7 per cent in the Shepparton region, which includes Campaspe, the City of Greater Shepparton and Moira Shire — the highest in regional Victoria.
The June figure almost doubled that of May when 16.7 per cent of youth were unemployed.
The ABS data showed about 11,000 young people were employed in February, but to June the number had decreased to around 5550 across the three shires.
Goulburn Murray CVGT’s transition to work program manager Angela Randall said her team now had 270 clients on its books — a rise of almost 100 in a month.
“At one point in mid-May we had 70 new clients overnight,” she said.
“We’ve also just had to appoint a new staff member to help us keep up with the demand.
“During this time, we’ve found those looking for work are a lot more skilled than some employers might think. The hospitality and retail injuries have definitely been the hardest hit by COVID-19.”
Victorian Member for Murray Plains Peter Walsh said he was rocked by the soaring unemployment numbers.
He said it was “totally unacceptable youth unemployment” data.
“There is no doubt these numbers have been compounded as another result of the Andrews Labor Government’s mismanagement of the COVID crisis,” Mr Walsh said.
“And when the numbers get this high it is going to take years to bring them down.
“What’s more, the premier, who is now governing without the parliament, doesn’t appear to have a plan, post lockdown, as to how he is going to repair the damage COVID and his government’s incompetence have created.”
While many businesses have opted to reduce the number of staff during the pandemic, CVGT’s staff have been faced with other challenges when trying to help people find work.
“When driving tests were stopped it was a bit of a stumbling block for some people,” Ms Randall said.
“Over time, we’ve found that having a driver’s licence makes a person much more appealing to a business.
“Unfortunately, there has been a lot of confusion not just for job seekers but employers as well.
“When you’re not sure what might happen from one week to the next, it makes it difficult to decide what you want to do with your business.”
Despite the frustration of losing employment, Ms Randall said many job seekers had been willing to step out of their comfort zone during the pandemic.
“We’ve been very fortunate there has been a lot of different training programs on offer,” she said.
“I would urge anyone who is looking for work to consider learning something different.”
The total number of people unemployed in the region rose to 6.6 per cent in June, up from 5.9 per cent in May.
A Victorian Government spokesperson said more than $9 billion had been invested to protect people from the deadly health risks and economic effects of COVID-19.
“The coronavirus pandemic is having a devastating impact on businesses and workers from right around the world, and Victorians are not immune, but these restrictions are
necessary to slow the spread of the disease and prevent further mass casualty,” they said.
“The Commonwealth and Victorian governments have provided billions of dollars in support to help businesses, workers and their families make it through to the other side of this crisis.
“We’re not giving up on a single worker or a single job, but until we can get on top of this health crisis, we cannot repair the economic damage it is causing.”
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