ROBERT Sharkey is the human face of the city’s unemployment crisis.
After 15 months of rejection and despair, the West Tamworth 41-year-old took matters into his own hands this week, spruiking for work to passing traffic on a busy roadside.
Armed with a placard saying “Work wanted” and his phone number, Mr Sharkey spent five hours yesterday at the corner of Goonoo Goonoo Rd and George St.
From 7am this morning, he will repeat his human billboard stunt on Scott Rd.
In fact, he has vowed to continue doing it each day until he gets what he wants – a job.
“I’m gonna do this until I find a job,” Mr Sharkey said.
“I’ve been unemployed for so long I don’t know what else to do.
“I got so tired of applying for jobs and missing out I just thought I should get out here and advertise myself.”
An administration and reception specialist, Mr Sharkey was made redundant from his position at Newtrain Incorporated in Tamworth in March last year.
He has since applied for close to 50 similar positions and even put his hand up to become a pizza delivery driver.
Yet the bills and rejection letters continue to pile up.
“It’s just so disappointing,” Mr Sharkey said.
“It doesn’t empower you to want to get out there. You just think ‘what’s the use, I’m probably not even going to get a response back’.”
While his roadside antics haven’t landed him a job yet, they’ve endeared him to passing motorists.
“People have been supportive, even if it’s just a smile or a wave,” he said.
Tamworth Business Chamber president Tim Coates said a “perfect storm” of factors had made it a difficult climate for local firms to employ new people.
“Superannuation just went up, we don’t know what’s happening with the carbon tax and payroll tax continues to be an impost on businesses,” Mr Coates said.
“Close to 98 per cent of local businesses are small businesses and it’s a massive undertaking for them to put on a new person.”
Tamworth 19-year-old Amy Devrell shared her story in The Leader this week about the difficulties of finding employment as a young person.
Sharkey’s search an inspiration to all: see today's editorial,