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Queensland labour shortage: State desperate to fill vacancies as hairdressers fly in to work

Australia is facing a dire labor shortage, but few places have it as hard as Queensland with hairdressers resorting to flying workers from NSW and the government allocating $2 million for an advertisement to try to attract traditional crafts to to move house.

The Queensland government hoped its flashy, multimillion-dollar government ad campaign would attract more than 1,000 trades, but instead got a miserable response, encouraging just two people to make the move.

In April, the government announced it would spend $2 million on the “Tradies in Paradise” promotion, expecting to lure hundreds of tradies with the promise of warmer weather and a $1,750 cash bonus.

The workers were desperately needed to rebuild the state after record floods in 2022, and the campaign was flagged by Prime Minister Annastacia Palaszczuk in March and officially launched a month later.

A flashy multi-million dollar advertising campaign designed to attract 1,000 tradies has had a miserable response with just two people employed

A flashy multi-million dollar advertising campaign designed to attract 1,000 tradies has had a miserable response with just two people employed

The unemployment rate in Australia has fallen to 3.9 percent - the lowest rate since 1974 (pictured is a cafe worker in Sydney)

The unemployment rate in Australia has fallen to 3.9 percent – the lowest rate since 1974 (pictured is a cafe worker in Sydney)

“We want you to run to paradise,” the Prime Minister said, apparently quoting the classic Australian rock song by The Choirboys.

Acting Prime Minister Steven Miles boasted that the marketing campaign would win over traditions that are “stuck in Sydney traffic or … about to endure the long Melbourne winter”.

But the campaign failed spectacularly, resulting in only two new hires.

The workers were needed to rebuild the state after record flooding in 2022, and the campaign was flagged by Queensland Prime Minister Annastacia Palaszczuk, who believed traditions would

The workers were needed to rebuild the state after record flooding in 2022, and the campaign was flagged by Queensland Prime Minister Annastacia Palaszczuk, who believed traditions would “run to paradise.”

Hairdressing chain ManCave, which has 13 stores on the East Coast, has had to fly in NSW staff to keep its new facility at Indooroopilly up and running

Hairdressing chain ManCave, which has 13 stores on the East Coast, has had to fly in NSW staff to keep its new facility at Indooroopilly up and running

Master Builders Association CEO Paul Bidwell told the Today Show on Thursday that the campaign showed craft shortages everywhere, not just Queensland.

‘[Labour] is definitely stretched all over the country, in fact all over the world,” he said.

Bidwell admitted the campaign was “always a gamble, but it was worth a try.”

He added that the $1,750 cash incentive wasn’t enough, given that many crafts can earn $100,000 a year and the cost of moving a family interstate alone was well over $1,750.

The news of the job search disaster comes as shortages in Queensland have become so severe that some small businesses are flying workers into the air to continue trading.

A barbershop in Queensland struggles so hard to find staff it has to fly in workers from NSW

A barbershop in Queensland struggles so hard to find staff it has to fly in workers from NSW

In April, the Queensland government of Annastacia Palaszczuk announced its $2 million 'Tradies in Paradise' promotion, expecting to lure the tradies with the promise of warm weather and a $1,750 cash bonus.

In April, the Queensland government of Annastacia Palaszczuk announced its $2 million ‘Tradies in Paradise’ promotion, expecting to lure the tradies with the promise of warm weather and a $1,750 cash bonus.

Hairdressing chain ManCave, with 13 stores on the East Coast, has had to catch up with NSW staff to keep the new facility at Indooroopilly up and running.

“Financially it’s not the best, but we need to put someone in the shop,” Nimard Zahrah, CEO of ManCave Barbershop, told ABC.

Mr Zahrah, who lives in Sydney, is one of many NSW staff who commute to Queensland to work there.

Aside from crafts and barber shops, the health, hospitality and retail sectors are also struggling as they cannot find staff to fill vacancies.

However, the job shortage is far from limited to Queensland.

A combination of limited immigration during the pandemic and layoffs from Covid has put pressure on employers in nearly all sectors, including metropolitan and regional areas.

Across Australia, there were nearly 480,000 job openings at the end of June, compared to just 227,000 at the start of the pandemic.

The unemployment rate in Australia has fallen further than forecast to 3.5 percent - the lowest rate since 1974

The unemployment rate in Australia has fallen further than forecast to 3.5 percent – the lowest rate since 1974

Meanwhile, 494,000 people remain unemployed.

In June, the 2022 Workforce Skills Survey found that 93 percent of NSW companies are facing staff shortages.

The latest Australian labor force figures from ABS show that the national unemployment rate fell to 3.5 percent in June.

That’s the lowest percentage since August 1974, when it was 2.7 percent.

Australia’s many job shortages

There is a staff shortage for the jobs listed below in most or all states:

  • Occupations including: carpenters, masons, electricians, carpenters, bakers, aircraft engineers, miners and telecommunications technicians, fitters and turners and boilermakers, crane operators
  • Health, especially nurses and doctors, including clinical research personnel
  • Education, including public school teachers (primarily math and science), early childhood teachers
  • Hospitality workers, including chefs and cooks, housekeepers, waitstaff, baristas
  • Hairdressers and other personal grooming assistants
  • Store staff
  • Information and technology including: IT project managers, software developers, digital producers
  • Infrastructure including: civil project engineers and civil designers, urban planners and urban planners
  • Warehouse including forklift drivers, store staff

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