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Career change ideas if you're in the public service dustbin


Primrose Riordan

New career post public service: Brick layer Jamie Neiberding is finding it hard to get labourers.

New career post public service: Brick layer Jamie Neiberding is finding it hard to get labourers. Photo: Jay Cronan

Recruitment experts are assuring Canberrans that despite the territory potentially losing three per cent of its workforce, and lower redundancy pay outs, there are other jobs out there if they find themselves on the APS pavement.

Those thinking of packing a campervan with a few bottles, giving up Lateline for good and heading to the coast should listen to Jim Roy, ACT regional director for Hays Recruitment. "There are definitely opportunities for second careers" Mr Roy said. 

"Whilst the APS cuts will affect the market, there is also more certainty over hiring now and not all sectors are affected," he said.

New openings in retail

Ikea is coming to Canberra

For all the flat-pack queens and kings, Ikea will be hiring more than 250 people in the ACT before the Canberra store opens mid-2015. Ikea manager Mark Mitchinson said he was looking for "down-to-earth, straight forward people". Starting wages are $22.86 an hour and the perks are not bad; workers can get six months maternity and one month paternity pay after two years of service and discounts on furniture and meals.

Switch sides

Change management and new industries like digital marketing will provide job opportunities

The sharks are circling in Canberra, so why not join the pack? Keith Cantlie is the managing director of Cantlie Recruitment. 

"It is an ongoing challenge to find people who do financial audits in Canberra in both assurance and performance audit," he said.

"Where there has been an increase in demand is for people who can do change management and process change. So this is people with technical expertise and experience in managing system changeovers in organisations” Mr Cantlie said."

As always, people with bookkeeping skills will never be out of work.

"You would not believe the shortages in payroll,'' Mr Jim Roy from Hays said.

To join the numbers pack, you will need a Certificate IV in Accounting – just one semester if you study full-time.

Let out your inner Masterchef

Bakeries are looking to hire in Canberra

So you think you can bake? Well, people still need to eat. Crust Bakery in Fyshwick and Bakers Delight have been looking for qualified bakers, to no avail. Carlo Martiniello of La Piazza cafe in Erindale says he has been looking for staff for two months. 

"I've had a few inquiries but I haven't found someone who has even come close," he said.

Job uncertainty and the six o'clock swill have historically gone hand in hand. A few new openings, such as Max Brenner and the Capital Bar and Grill in the QT Hotel in New Acton, show a growing confidence in the hospitality sector. The Capital Bar and Grill even held an open casting call for staff on Saturday 

Pick up a trade

Jamie Neiberding, a builder in Gungahlin, said he could not get enough bricklayers. 

"I advertised for more and I didn't get one phone call. I put the word out everywhere – in Wollongong, Sydney, Newcastle. Even when they do call, they don't show up," he said.

Brickies can earn $40 to $45 an hour, depending on their skills, and with numerous job ads for steel fixers, barbers, dog groomers and heating installers, there have never been so many reasons to slip into a pair of King Gees.

To work on a construction site you need a white card (which costs anywhere between $60 andto $110) and you might need to work first as an apprentice. While allowances were cut in the budget, a new student loan system for apprentices was announced. Up to $8000 will be available for the first year of study with a 20 per cent discount if you finish up qualified. Soon you will be singing the praises of the smoko, flex-time a distant memory.

Mr Roy added that preschool and childcare and vocational education teachers were other areas always looking for staff.

"The APS cuts will certainly have an effect but there are new industries like digital marketing that didn't exist five years ago," he said.

Under the cuts outlined in last weeks budget, government will abolish more than 230 bureaucratic programs and 70 government bodies.Even before the budget, public and private sector job vacancy rates were low. ANZ newspaper job advertisements data from April 2014 revealed just 177 jobs were advertised per week in the ACT, down 27 per cent on the year before.

In January just 300 public service and 2300 private sector jobs in Canberra were free, rising to 400 public and 2600 private sector vacancies in Feburary this year, the last avaliable data. Even the months following Peter Costello's 1996 budget cuts, where figures hovered around the 400 to 500 mark, did not see this level of tightness in the public sector. All the more reason to get creative and look elsewhere.

32 comments so far

  • Most of those public sector vacancies are not real vacancies. Given that online advertising is free, it is simply a box that is ticked. There is usually someone lined up for it already. I wish they wouldn't people through the effort the tortuous application process when it is futile.

    Date and time
    May 21, 2014, 4:35AM
    • A brickies labourer...? Excellent idea, I'm quite sure that my six years of university and a specilalisation in an esoteric field vital to Australian science would be the perfect background to lug piles of bricks around. Great suggestion.

      Date and time
      May 21, 2014, 8:15AM
      • If you're unemployed it's better than the dole, regardless of your background or qualifications.

        Date and time
        May 21, 2014, 10:09AM
      • and hence why those industries have problems due to upstarts like yourself refusing other jobs because you want to work in a field that doesn't have any jobs on offer.

        Date and time
        May 21, 2014, 10:32AM
    • Xanthippe, "six years of university and a specilalisation in an esoteric field" is fine if you have a job, but being a brickies labourer may put a meal on the table.

      Date and time
      May 21, 2014, 10:13AM
      • Being a brickie's labourer might put a few meals on the table if someone is willing to employ you. Like any other job, employees prefer to take on someone with a bit of experience in the area, rather than trying to teach a raw recruit how to lay a row of bricks that won't fall over in a year's time. "Unskilled labour" isn't actually correct, and the patronising comments in the article just go to show how little some people know about those who work in the trades.

        My partner would love to be a tradie. He really now regrets making the decision at TAFE to do IT instead of electrical, cabinet-making, etc. But he's over 40 now. It's never too late to learn - you can learn at any age - but it's much harder to persuade an employee to train you up as a relatively raw recruit, but without treating you like an 18-year-old with no experience in the world.

        Employees are really, really cagey about people over 40 learning a new thing. They really are. All this hyperbole about working 'till you're 70 conveniently ignore the fact that most companies WILL NOT EMPLOY PEOPLE OF THIS AGE. It's a blunt, unfortunate fact. They might be happy to let existing employees continue through to this age, but they very, very rarely take on new staff over 50, let alone 60, except at the very upper echelons of management.

        Hell, try being over 45 in Canberra and looking for a different role. Employees don't take on risks in an uncertain financial environment. And people over 40 are seen as a risk. Full-stop.

        Date and time
        May 21, 2014, 11:56AM
    • Every EL I know who got a voluntary redundancy went straight back into the APS as a contractor on double their APS salary, remaining in the same type of work they were originally in.

      Date and time
      May 21, 2014, 10:14AM
      • Re: Keith Cantlie's comment "It is an ongoing challenge to find people who do financial audits in Canberra in both assurance and performance audit." I previously worked in performance audit for over ten years including at senior levels. I recently applied for a number of positions in performance audit at levels lower than those at which I had previously worked. I didn't even get an interview. Age discrimination is rife.

        Don't believe it
        Date and time
        May 21, 2014, 10:42AM
        • Totally agree. As an experienced lawyer, I've applied for numerous legal positions, only to be told "You're over qualified". Real reason is that I'm north of 60!

          Date and time
          May 21, 2014, 12:29PM
      • Like it's that easy. My partner was out of work for 16 months, and toyed with the idea of re-training as a sparkie or similiar (he has solid skills in that area anyway). We did some serious investigation into the area.

        Has anyone actually TRIED to become a "mature-age apprentice"?? We couldn't even find the entry point. To get an apprenticeship, you need to be doing an associated degree. But to get the degree, you need to have lined up an apprenticeship job. And who, precisely, is going to take on an older person?? No-one, that's who - even at apprenticeship wages, which aren't enough to support families, mortgages, etc.

        So, it's a good idea - on paper. But in reality, you really need to be pretty dedicated to the concept and be prepared to drop a few years' wages before getting back up to speed again.

        Date and time
        May 21, 2014, 10:44AM

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