Esperance faces labour ‘crisis’, launches campaign asking residents to work second job this summer
Aaron Pemberton is working two jobs because of an illuminating recent experience at an Esperance restaurant in Western Australia.
Like many South Coast towns, the region faces a crippling worker shortage and a record-breaking tourist season, each brought on by COVID-19 travel restrictions stemming the flow of backpackers and WA travellers.
To ease the burden on small businesses and ensure visitors enjoy their time, the Esperance Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Shire of Esperance and the Goldfields-Esperance Development Commission have launched a campaign that is calling on residents to get a second job.
While the plan may have some sceptics, Mr Pemberton has already heeded that call.
The full-time sales assistant recently spent 30 minutes waiting for food at a local takeaway restaurant.
Instead of complaining about the service, he said it made him realise just how dire the worker shortage was and spurred him to act.
He now works a second job behind the bar at the local yacht club two nights a week.
“I think the worker shortage is definitely a crisis here,” Mr Pemberton said.
“Especially in a tourist town where your name is on the line.”
While he said the campaign would not solve the problem entirely, he thought it could be part of the solution — as well as being a “fun” way to earn extra cash.
“[Behind the bar you] meet an array of different people,” he said.
“It’s fun once you get into it, listen to the music and get in your rhythm — it’s beautiful.”
‘It was really good fun’
Priscilla Davies is another full-time Esperance worker who has also recently taken up a second job.
She has completed her Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) training and is working one shift a week at a local restaurant, which is her first push into the hospitality industry.
“I definitely smiled a lot at the customers because I was inwardly laughing at myself thinking, ‘Wow, this is something new,'” she said.
“So, it was actually really good fun — a really good experience.
“I used to play sport one night a week. At the moment I’m not playing that sport so instead of going out and socialising in that way I’m now going out and helping a local business for the peak season.”
She urged others to do the same, not only to help with the worker shortage, but to protect current workers from burning out, particularly with the busiest part of the tourist season looming.
Hospitality, cleaning staff needed
Jayde Guest from the Esperance Chamber of Commerce and Industry said hospitality and cleaning workers were in highest demand.
“Where businesses would usually have backpackers come in and spending the summer here, we just don’t have that at the moment,” she said.
“So, we are relying a lot more on local people to help out.”
She said the stakeholders had recently launched two marketing videos, one designed to encourage locals to help and the other designed to bring backpackers to the region.
The State Government has also funded $40,000 to renovate a dilapidated youth hostel to provide accommodation for seasonal workers.