Youth buck work ethic perception

Tim Edmunds and Toby HusseyAlbany Advertiser
Fletcher International general manager Greg Cross says local youth deserve credit.
Camera IconFletcher International general manager Greg Cross says local youth deserve credit. Credit: Laurie Benson

The prospect of rolling up their sleeves and putting in some hard work is not deterring Albany youth, according to the city’s biggest employer.

In light of alarming recent youth unemployment figures for WA, Fletcher International general manager Greg Cross said he believed Albany’s youth were bucking a growing negative perception over the work ethic of young jobseekers.

The Narrikup abattoir employs close to 500 people, with most of the workforce made up of youth aged 17-24. According to a recent report by the anti-poverty group the Brotherhood of St Laurence, the Wheatbelt region, which includes Albany, has a youth unemployment rate of 15.9 per cent, ranked 13th in the 20 worst regions for youth unemployment nationwide.

North-west Perth, which includes Joondalup, Yanchep, Wanneroo and Scarborough, is the worst in WA at 16.7 per cent.

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Mr Cross said he had seen an increased local flavour to the workforce in the past two years, showing youth were prepared to roll up their sleeves even though there were parts of the job which were “not so savoury”.

He said about 95 per cent of the work was like working in a butcher’s shop and it was not all “blood and guts”.

“There has certainly been many occasions over our 21 years when we have had to look to recruiting interstate or overseas and that has naturally been what has happened to this industry on a national basis,” he said.

“However, what we have experienced here in Albany in the last two years is the demand for labour we have needed has been accommodated by all locals, therefore we haven’t had to rely on backpackers or certainly haven’t had to seek any kind of overseas workers.

“It’s a nice feeling and something we haven’t experienced for all those years, and it’s a credit to all those young ones that have come on-board.”

Mr Cross said Fletcher International was also a registered training organisation and new workers could complete a 12-week traineeship and bring home between $800 and $900 a week.

“Everything you normally read about or hear about the youth of today and that they don’t want to work, well in Albany we should tip our hat to the young ones here,” he said.

ATC Worksmart chief executive Peter Adams said it was important young jobseekers were fully committed to wanting to work as there were generally limited opportunities in Albany.

“I believe it has become harder as many small business in our region have struggled to remain viable and their obvious first response is to lower labour costs, thus reducing employment opportunities,” he said.

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