Jobs figures released today shows Australia's unemployment rate continuing to fall. Nationally it's dropped from 4.3% to 4.1% and experts say it's as close as you can get to full employment.
But it makes it hard for businesses looking for staff, especially staff to do hard yakka -- the sort of work that the country has been built on.
What a difference a year doesn't make! Last year James Ashley was desperately seeking willing workers. 12 months on and he's at it again -- almost begging the unemployed to take jobs paying $50,000 a year , which could then lead to a supervisor's role that pays $100,000.
You'd think he'd be knocked over in the rush, but instead he's been bowled over by the lack on interest.
James' Queensland asphalt laying business is one of the fastest growing in Australia -- it would grow even faster if only he could find more staff.
"$50,000 is an exceptionally good wage at that level so I am surprised that he hasn't been able to find workers at that price. It's an indication just how desperate we are in that area for the labour intensive industries", said Queensland Chamber of Commerce President, Beatrice Booth.
Beatrice says finding low skilled workers is so difficult, it raises the suspicion that people on the dole don't want to work. "We are surveying our members on a daily basis and their comment to us is we really need a stricter dole system. There needs to be a way of forcing people into work", she said.
"I feel there's a major problem with unemployment and the people who are unemployed, whether they want to work or not", James said.
Employers are paying for the record low unemployment rates, especially in the resource boom states Queensland (3.3% unemployment) and Western Australia (2.8%).
In New South Wales (4.9%) and Victoria (4.3) are doing it a little tougher � up slightly In South Australia (4.4%) the figures are down, and they are in Tasmania (4.1%) and the Northern Territory (2.4%) too.
Which of course is terrific news for people looking for work but for employers like James Ashley things are only going to get worse.
Begging Boss continued�
The Chamber of Commerce forecasts half a million new low skilled employees need to be found in the next five years and the only option is to look overseas.
For James, hours spent outside Centrelink resulted in four potential workers turning up the next day.
After our story last year, James got 3000 inquiries from people who said they wanted work. "We took twelve people on, Two people lasted a day, one person didn't even turn up, the rest that turned up probably lasted for three months", James said.
So, he must be a terrible boss, right? Well the blokes who work for him don't think so. "The pays really good, pay above award, so the works good, good boss. What I actually like about them is that they actually do care about you", said one worker.
"From working in a factory it's great to work outside and get good blokes too work with. Yeah they're mad if they don't want to work. It's easy, easy job to do", said another.
"Being a kiwi and all mate I think it's just that Australians don't like to work hard", said another
And if it's not bad enough copping it from a Kiwi, this boss is ready to give up on Aussies completely. "I know I can find workers, skilled workers back in England, to come over and work in Australia", James said.
It sure beats standing in the rain trying to find people who aren't afraid to get their hands dirty. "I'm desperate", James said.
And of course James Ash is not alone. The Federal Government has announced a "guest worker scheme" to allow farmers and market gardeners to bring unskilled workers in from Pacific island nations. James says if his latest effort to employ Australians fails, he'll be applying to the Immigration Department to do the same.
If you are interested in the jobs on offer at Ash Industries they can be contacted on (07) 3381 8588 or through the company website at: www.ashindustries.com.au