March 29, 2020 12:41:20
Three weeks ago Samantha Campbell was extremely busy at work.
The operations manager for a liquor supply logistics company was planning for major events in Melbourne — the Grand Prix, AFL, music festivals — and was looking at adding more staff.
Then two weeks ago, major events started being cancelled.
One by one she let go of staff, and then last Monday she was told she wasn’t needed anymore either.
“It’s been very, very hard. Not sleeping, worrying about your staff, staff constantly calling to see what’s going on,” Ms Campbell said.
The former military worker, however, had some cards up her sleeve.
When work started drying up for her staff, she rang an old contact to see if he knew where they might be able to pick up some shifts.
He suggested logistics company Linfox. When she was stood down, she called them too.
“On Monday, I reached out, I got a call the next day, interviewed straight away and Thursday started the new role,” she said.
She’s working at a new supermarket distribution centre that’s been set up to deal with the demand from panic buying over the past month.
“It’s just been amazing. From such a negative to such a positive, I feel fantastic today,” she said.
Jobs created in manufacturing and engineers wanted
While hundreds of thousands of jobs are being lost across Australia, there are some being created as the economy re-purposes due to coronavirus.
Telstra and Optus are quickly on-shoring their call centres because of lockdowns in India and the Philippines, creating 1,500 jobs.
State and federal governments are looking to employ more than 6,000 people to help process extra welfare applications and payments.
BHP is looking to hire 1,500 people at its mining operations, while some manufacturers, who’ve struggled for survival against cheap imports for years, are stepping up.
Med-Con, near Shepparton in northern Victoria, will hire dozens of new staff to make surgical face masks, sanitiser, goggles and gowns.
And Baxter Healthcare, a medical goods manufacturer, has received orders for 200 Continuous Renal Replacement Therapy (CRRT) machines in the past two weeks — that is how much they would normally sell in five years.
It’s looking at employing Qantas engineers who’ve been laid off to help install and maintain the machines, which are being rolled out to hospitals across the country.
“This is your second-tier ICU (intensive care unit) equipment, behind respirators. It basically prevents organ shutdown,” said Steven Flynn, general manager of Baxter Healthcare Australia & New Zealand.
Seventy people are also being employed to make up IV bags that contain drugs such as chemotherapy treatments.
The company has had an influx of orders, as hospitals that usually mix their own pharmaceutical compounds redeploy staff to prepare for the COVID-19 peak.
“Typically we use pharmacists and science graduates [for this work]. It’s three months of training for us to teach people how to manipulate drugs,” Mr Flynn said.
“[But] what we’re looking to do to get us over this period is … upskill people really quickly on peripheral jobs such as boxing, labelling, etc.
“We are bolstering our workforce and will do everything we can to increase demand.”
Need a vet? Get an online consultation
As people have stopped seeing each other in person, demand has grown for IT services.
Technicians and helpdesk staff are wanted to help companies transition to working from home, while demand has soared for telehealth services.
It’s also venturing into pet telehealth too.
With more and more people staying away from traditional vet practices, there’s never been more of a need for vet advice to be available online.
Melbourne-based start-up Vetchat received a huge investment boost this week from a major pet-insurance agency, which will enable more vets and software staff to be hired.
“[It’ll] enable us to scale-up fast as remote consultations are needed more than ever,” chief executive officer Dr Claire Jenkins said.
“There was a need prior to COVID-19 … but I think it makes it very obvious now.”
One of the major employers at this time is the food supply chain.
More than 5,000 people have been hired in the past three weeks to help shops cope with panic buying.
“I’ve never seen anything like this in 20 years,” said Lisa Richardson, the chief executive officer of recruitment firm APS Group.
“At some sites we’re dealing with 90 new staff a week at the moment.”
She said hiring processes had been fast-tracked to get people into work sooner, and APS was directly contacting companies that were going out of business to see if their staff wanted work with them.
“If someone applied today, we can [hire them] around in 48 hours,” Ms Richardson said.
“We’re using Facebook, Gumtree, Instagram, to get the word out.”
Shepparton business owner Josh Sleeth has seen both the downturn and the upswing in demand more than most.
His play centre was closed last week due to government restrictions, but his butcher shop has never been busier.
He’s put on five more staff to deal with the demand from panic buying — including two workers who lost their jobs when he shut the play centre.
“It’s been busy, but we don’t know how long for,” he said.
“And I’ll tell you what, there’s a lot of people looking for work out there. A lot.”
Although the economy is adding jobs, it is barely making a dent in the numbers that have been lost.
And it’s uncertain how long the demand for these new positions will last.
New Linfox employee Samantha Campbell said she felt very privileged, even if her role turned out to be short-term.
“I’ll take each day as it comes. I’m just grateful for each day I have work.”
March 29, 2020 07:18:13