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The Sunshine Coast Job Market

The piles of rejected job applications… the hours spent volunteering… all those gut-wrenching days spent waiting for the replies that never come! And yet somehow, it’d all seem worth it if it meant you getting a decent 9-5 job on the Sunshine Coast. This is the reality facing most new arrivals to the region – and the odds just seem to worsen if you have an accent, don’t look like Barbie or Ken, or are a woman over 30.

We leave our accomplished city jobs and think, ‘OK, that’s my time spent slogging through the corporate world, now it’s time for the life I want to live’. Then as the years drag by you find yourself still trying to find a way to make a living – and not for the lack of trying! It’s an all-too familiar story in a place where we seem to trade career prospects for nature’s beauty.

Quarterly Unemployment Rate

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Labour Force Survey, Catalogue Number 6202.0, and Department of Employment, Small Area Labour Markets, March 2016. Compiled by .id.

It’s always been this way – no one comes here to cash in the millions and maintain a high-rolling executive job. In the 2016’s September quarter, the unemployment rate in Sunshine Coast was 4.72. It’s a figure that looks quite nice, until you realise it includes the 48% of workers who are under-employed (working less than they’d like), and doesn’t include the partners of those on unemployment benefits. Not to mention, it neglects to include those looking for work, but burnt-out from sending job applications.

The reason the Sunshine Coast appears to have statistically lower unemployment is because those able-bodied, qualified and searching for jobs have all left. The job market cited as of September 2016 is the smallest the work force has been since March 2014. Not only are jobs not being created on the Sunshine Coast, but they’re moving away, making the job market even more restrictive. Some might call it a ‘competitive market’, but considering the way these vacancies are filled, it can be anything but meritocratic.

Comparative Unemployment Rates - 2014-2016

Employment Rates

A friend once described this region to me as having a population made up of ‘newly-weds and nearly-deads’. Considering that the available jobs fall clearly within the elderly care and education industry, I think this statement fits well. With high education levels and presumably lots of student loans that are yet to be repaid, one wonders what the real cost of all this lost potential investment truly is. Not being able to find employment after a minimum of the 17 years of study that any graduate undertakes is not only devastating on a personal level, but also a waste of resources for the country. In the case of women of child-bearing age, these figures plunge even deeper.

The national underemployment trend increased 0.4 pts to 14.6%. In February 2017, when broken down between men and women it shows women were more likely to suffer. In Queensland, women's underemployment reached the worst level since records began in 1978, at 16.8 per cent. This is on top of the gender pay gap for full-time work, which is sitting at 23.1 per cent – the highest in three decades.

This is such a colossal waste of potential, when tertiary education completion rates are 62% female and only 30% of Australian female graduates are employed. Of people aged 15–74 years, 22 per cent of women had obtained a Bachelor Degree or higher qualification in 2014, compared to 16.9 per cent of men. Work is a duty for some, but it is also a human right as per the United Nations Human Rights Convention of 1961.

So, let’s analyse why there is this great shortage of real employment within our region:

The Small Market

Let’s face it: we all have pretty minimalistic demands here. We come for the lifestyle and it takes little spending to get the best Australia has to offer. All it takes is a pair of thongs, a six pack, that priceless ocean breeze and you’re already there. More and more, we’re rejecting mindless consumerism. We’re realising that the best buys are found at our local markets and op shops. This is the community I love and I’m proud of its recycling values. It’s also part of the reason that I don’t believe big business is the alpha and omega of economic development. Although this is a smaller market, it can be turned into an opportunity; a community that cares about how and where its profits are being made.

The Informal Job Market

The Sunny Coast has created a job vortex. A black hole of missed employment opportunities and wasted potential, where both employers and job-seekers lose out. I imagine it to be a vast cemetery of buried and unread PDF applications that have cost literally millions of dollars in people’s time. With Centrelink requiring clients to send off 15 resumes a week to unsuspecting vacancies, it’s also no wonder that employers cave under the hundreds of applications received for every vacancy. So, they handle it informally: they get someone they know, and that cuts out the opportunity for recruiting the fresh talent that might take a business into exciting, uncharted waters. Imagine how much we could do for the world, what you could do if all this energy wasn’t wasted!

So, how do choose your line of work when the job market doesn’t suit you?

Start from HAPPY.

Find something that makes your soul soar and follow that! #MakingItHappen can help you create an employment opportunity for yourself and hopefully, your community. We don’t do things just for profit around here. We like working with projects that can have beneficial outcomes for all involved, creating positivity and further opportunities.

So, if you happen to be one of the unemployed, under-employed or just ready to do something for yourself and your community, if you can imagine yourself to one day be an Entrepreneur, Mum-preneur, Fem-preneur, Ex-Retired-preneur, a Lifestyle-preneur or any mix of these… get in touch with us!


The Australian Bureau of Statistics - Labour Force, Apr. 2017

The ABC - Australian women earn 23 per cent less than men, according to workplace equality scorecard

The Australian Bureau of Statistics -2013, Education and Training

The Brisbane Times - Female underemployment in Queensland at Record Highs

Communities Queensland - Queensland Women 2015 Report