I hate the phrase "job snobs." It's evocative language that continues to paint the job seeker as the villain in the capitalist picture of employment struggles. If the Department of Home Affairs is to be believed, then we, as a nation, hold values that respect the "freedom and dignity of the individual ... [and embrace] mutual respect, tolerance, fair play and compassion for those in need."
Yet this is rarely if ever shared with those experiencing unemployment. Where is the dignity in calling people job snobs like The Australian did on October 10? Where is the embrace of mutual respect in calling them the "taxed and the taxed nots"? Where is the freedom in seeking employment where our skills, aptitudes and passions lie?
Our Australian values and our political leadership are at odds with one another.
But is this disparity truly surprising? With our leaders calling for welfare payments to be stopped for people expressing their right to protest, with the indignity of the Indue cashless debit card, the profiling and stereotyping of the drug testing for welfare recipients and the robodebt debacle, I don't think I can say I find anything that our political leaders say truly surprising.
Disappointing, aggravating, cruel and unusual, yes, but not surprising.
There may well be "jobs out there,". In fact, the Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business' Vacancy Report from August 2019 tells us there are estimated to be just more than 170,000 jobs "out there" across the nation, but with 700,000 people without any form of employment those numbers don't compute.
Jobs that require a bachelor degree or higher represent the highest number of job vacancies: 40.2 per cent. Certificate II or III level jobs rank second at 26.8 per cent of job vacancies. Then we have certificate IV or III (classified as "Skilled VET") level jobs rank third at 12.6 per cent, certificate I or high school level jobs rank fourth at 12.6 per cent and advanced diploma or diploma level roles rank fifth with 9.9 per cent.
Calling someone a job snob because they are a factory worker who is not appropriately skilled or qualified for an accountant position is ridiculous
Over the last five years, jobs requiring high school or certificate I level education have dropped by 18.4 per cent. Full-time employment decreased in August and part-time employment increased. So yes, there are "jobs out there", but there are not enough jobs for everyone and the available jobs are not all appropriate for everyone.
You see, employment is not really a numbers game. It's not about having X number of jobs available on one side and X number of people available to fill them on the other, so let's mash them together. You need to have the right people for the right jobs.
Calling someone a job snob because they are a factory worker who is not appropriately skilled or qualified for an accountant position is ridiculous. Calling someone a job snob because they are a teacher who is not appropriately skilled or qualified for a cleaning position is equally laughable and it has nothing to do with snobbery.
Employment Minister Michaelia Cash said: "We have an economy of opportunity and employers are screaming out for workers who are eager for a job."
While she is technically right, what she is missing is that employers are actually screaming out for workers who are appropriately qualified, skilled, experienced and job ready.
The survey that Cash is quoting from highlights business' frustration in the calibre of candidate - if they aren't willing to hire and train a candidate experiencing unemployment, how is it the job seeker's fault they can't find a job?
This is a complex issue and one that is often commented on in simple terms.
There is a human element here that is being missed. People have a right to seek meaningful work, or at the very least, work that is within their skill set, experience and qualifications. But even if you wanted to take that right away from Australians, businesses are still seeking appropriate candidates.
Retraining could be an option, but the government has stripped TAFE of $3 billion since 2013, capped university funding and already vulnerable people are being further disadvantaged through lack of support.
Cash pledged her support to businesses - where is her support for job seekers? And for God's sake, how is Scott Cam going to solve it when our leaders can't?
Zoë Wundenberg is a careers consultant and un/employment advocateat impressability.com.au