The number of underemployed people in Victoria appears to be rising, with the vast majority working part-time but wanting more hours.
Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that the number of underemployed people reached a seven-month peak in November, with almost 297 people in every 100,000 aged over 15 looking or available for more work hours.
Of those, 13 people worked part-time for economic reasons (such as being stood down or insufficient work available), while the rest reported wanting and being available to work more hours.
AXIS Employment’s Bendigo manager, Jeff Else, said it was likely there was a lot of casual work available, with many employers committing only to part-time hours and seeking greater flexibility in their workforces.
Locally, Mr Else said other potential factors were including there being fewer large employers in the city than there once was, the availability of jobs requiring a lower level of skills, and the use of labour force programs to hire casual staff.
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For some industries, such as hospitality and retail, he said, the availability of work also depended on consumer demand.
PeoplePlus executive chairman Con Kittos said the employment market in Victoria was “stronger and better than it’s ever been”, and major regional centres were doing as well as Melbourne.
But like Mr Else, Mr Kittos said the job market was changing, with more part-time and casual positions than ever before, a trend that had been seen not only in Victoria but around the world.
He said he suspected this trend was due to increasing competition and the need to be more sensitive in regards to costs, of which wages were the biggest.
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The amount of business generated by consumers and customers was another potential factor, Mr Kittos said.
“Employers tend to shape workforces around how much business is coming through the door… That’s necessary for them to survive,” he said.
To combat the increasing casualisation of the workforce, Mr Kittos suggested people build a “portfolio of work” from their casual and part-time endeavours.
He said this required a change of mindset from ‘9 to 5’ hours.
“We’ve seen people can make a success from part-time and casual work by treating it like their own business,” Mr Kittos said.