EMPLOYMENT IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Bundaberg Regional Council's Regional Skills Investment Strategy project co-ordinator Chris Kettle.
EMPLOYMENT IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Bundaberg Regional Council's Regional Skills Investment Strategy project co-ordinator Chris Kettle.

'TOUGH GIG': Why trawlers can't get Bundy workers on board

LOCAL skill gaps and job demands are being pinpointed as part of an investigation into the region's agriculture, health and construction industries.

Bundaberg Regional Skills Investment Strategy co-ordinator Chris Kettle has been tasked to work on the project with funding from the State Department of Employment, Small Businesses and Training.

Bundaberg Regional Council made the application to the program designed to connect existing training opportunities in VET investment programs and current workforce skill needs.

A particular focus for Mr Kettle's research this year is in employing deckhands.

Speaking with four or five trawler operators, Mr Kettle said gone were the days where people walked off the street and down to the dock looking for work on a vessel.

He said no one was coming to them anymore and they were having to consider bringing people in to work on their boats.

"It's a tough gig," he said and described hard, isolated work where you could be at sea for more than three weeks.

And there were multiple intricacies of the profession and job active requirements which made it difficult for some job seekers to find work as deckhands.

Which is why one of his priorities this year is to find a solution and strategies for deckhand employment opportunities and training.

Having created a reference group with local industry representatives, Mr Kettle said he found a common thread between the construction and agricultural industry needs when it came to job applications - character and interest.

While people were trained to do the work, he said often the feedback he got from industry employers was that the youngsters wouldn't stick around if the work was hard.

He said while this wasn't a reflection of everyone, a lot were lacking resilience and the drive to work.

"Work can be tough, but it's also rewarding," Mr Kettle said.

He said young job seekers who were reliable, willing to learn and ready to do the hard yards would likely find jobs.

Mr Kettle said they also needed to be shown how to market themselves. Rather than only applying for jobs online, he said making an appearance at the business was a step in the right direction - demonstrating that you are eager and willing to turn up.

He said by bringing industry professionals into local schools to put a spotlight on opportunities and requirements, students would have a better understanding of what's expected of them within a particular field of work.

Mr Kettle said businesses had relayed the fact that they would rather hire locals, but there simply wasn't enough interest and thus backpackers were getting farm work.

With this in mind, he said bridging the gap between students and industry employers was a key focus for his work; and one means to do so was work experience.

He said young people need to know what was behind the big sheds and gates or to see the depths of what the allied health field had to offer, rather than just reading about it.

With his role set to end in November, Mr Kettle said he was working to ensure that the region's youngsters were getting an opportunity to get a taste of different careers so, they had adequate information to make informed decisions about their future.

Mr Kettle said Bundaberg was one of 17 RSIS projects investigating region-specific industries.

Click here for more information about the RSIS.

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