Valley jobs: Working hard but hardly working

Michael Martin has been without secure work for about two years.

The Latrobe Valley resident finished year 10, has “the bare minimal” in basic certificates and does have a casual job.

His shifts are very random, though, due to the weather. He also says he’s limited in where he can work without a driver’s licence.

Last week the 26 year-old joined ReActivate Latrobe Valley as a Work for the Dole participant, hopeful the experience would help him find more work.

“A job would be nice, but realistically, I mean, chances are slim,” he said.

“But it gets me out of bed, gets me motivated, I guess.”

Michael said he’d tried to apply for the army and was upfront about this in any job interview that came his way.

“I’d say, ‘I’m trying to get into the army’… they’re not going to hire someone that’s not fully committed, I guess,” he said.

“But at the same time, the army looked at it – because I didn’t have a job for over 12 months, they said, ‘we want you to go back and get a job’.

“It was a catch-22 in the end, I was in limbo.”

Michael applies for jobs to meet the required government quota as an active job seeker and says he’ll often apply for extra if he hears of a position he’s qualified for.

These aren’t always available though, and the thought has crossed his mind to move to another region with more jobs, more opportunities.

“They say you need skills, and you go and get skills, and then by the time you’ve probably even completed that skill, the job’s taken,” Michael said.

“So then you’re back to square one.”

Emmet Blackwell was also unemployed for about two years after enduring a severe back injury.

Required to start looking for work once his body had healed, Emmet said sometimes the system forced people to apply for jobs that weren’t suited to their skillset or experience.

“If you don’t find something in the paper your skills or interests are suited to, you have no choice but to at least apply,” Emmet said.

“It’s a real grey area, hard to define I guess. How many people are trying? How many people are just ticking the box?”

Emmet spent about 18 months actively looking for work, and is now working three days a week, managing the 50 Mile Farmers’ Market in Morwell.