CHRIS Adams has been out of work for a year – but not for lack of trying.
The expectant father is one of more than 1500 job seekers desperate to secure employment in the Tamworth regional area alone, according to the most recent figures from the Department of Employment.
News last week that the national unemployment rate had reached a 10-year high of 6 per cent sent labour market speculators into a spin.
Even more worrisome for locals is the fact that regional centres, including the New England and North West, routinely sit above the national jobless rate average.
Mr Adams, a former Coffs Harbour local, moved to Tamworth 12 months ago to be with his partner and her three children.
And next month, the couple will welcome a new addition to the family – and another mouth to feed.
While studying for his certificate three in horticultural at TAFE, Mr Adams continues to apply for a variety of positions across the board, only to be knocked back time and time again.
“I’ve got my RSA and my RCG but I can’t get a start because I’ve got no experience,” Mr Adams said.
“I say to them, ‘how am I meant to get experience if I can’t get a start’”.
The 29-year-old, who has previously worked as a labourer as well as in the fruit farming industry and in retail, says he has also applied for a number of apprenticeships but has been overlooked due to his age.
“I’ve been told I am too old, but I’m keen,” Mr Adams said.
“I’ll do anything from sweeping to washing up. Even if I am just digging a hole – I will be happy to do anything.”
Alarmingly, Kevin Rigby, senior manager of Joblink Plus Tamworth, said regional job seekers were usually shut out of the labour market for 25 per cent longer than the national average due in part to supply, industry and geographical isolation.
This often leads to a lowering of self-confidence, Mr Rigby said, and paired with a community stigma towards the long-term unemployed, creates barriers.
“It’s about getting employers to give them the opportunity ... once they have their foot in the door they can become some of the most loyal workers employers have ever found,” he said.
Comparing the latest national figures, Mr Rigby described the Tamworth labour market over the past 12 months as “fairly stable”, but admitted a six month lag between metropolitan and regional markets exists.