JOBS VACANT: Ninth largest worker shortage in nation
THE entrepreneurial spirit of the region's businesses is being stifled, as hundreds of job vacancies remain unfilled.
Job advertising website Adzuna had 736 vacancies listed for the Mackay, Isaac and Whitsunday region last week.
Outside the capital cities, Mackay ranked ninth in the country for its demand for fresh workers.
The biggest employment gaps were in health care and nursing, with 138 jobs up for grabs, and trade and construction, with 127 open applications.
Mackay Region Chamber of Commerce management committee member Scott Jamieson said the region's businesses were being stifled by the skills shortage.
Mr Jamieson said it was typical to see more than 1000 vacancies on job listing websites, as businesses struggle to draw in permanent workers from Mackay's employment pool.
"It's across the gamut," he said.
"From casual to hospitality, council and construction.
"Everyone is looking for workers. It runs right across the board.
"It's making it difficult for businesses to grow."
Mr Jamieson said the impact of the workers shortage was hitting some industries worse than others.
He said hospitality and retail businesses had struggled to draw workers out from the JobSeeker and JobKeeper payments.
"They potentially would earn less than they would working," he said.
"It's holding people back from getting jobs."
He said this was not the first time Mackay had faced a worker shortage and many businesses had learned how to function with a smaller team.
"(But) we want our businesses to prosper and grow their footprint," he said.
"We need people to facilitate that growth."
Mr Jamieson said the adaptability and inventiveness of Mackay businesses had shone through during the past seven months amid the pandemic.
But he said industries like retail, hospitality and tourism could not avoid the economic impact of coronavirus.
Mr Jamieson said industries like mining services, law, accounting and real estate were in need of workers after powering through the health crisis.
"They haven't skipped a beat," he said.
In September, the Australian Treasury revealed more than 4200 businesses in the Dawson electorate were on the JobKeeper scheme.
Healthcare and nursing
PATIENTS are being turned away from medical clinics as the region faces 138 vacancies in the healthcare industry.
Job advertising website Adzuna said Mackay's healthcare and nursing industry had the highest demand for workers of any sector last week.
One employer, Sarina Clinic, said it was turning away 30 patients a day because of two general practitioner vacancies.
"As a private billing practice doctors usually see four patients per hour but can add patients as they see fit," the Adzuna job listing said.
About one in six of the listed healthcare vacancies were in Mackay Hospital and Health Services.
The region's largest health employer was seeking social workers, dentists, dietitians, nurses and midwives.
Chief executive Jo Whitehead said current vacancies were low, considering the size of service, which includes 2500 full-time equivalent staff across eight hospitals and four community health facilities.
"Recruiting to some highly specialised clinical roles is an ongoing challenge and patience does pay off, recently we welcomed the appointment of a second permanent doctor to Collinsville MPHS," Ms Whitehead said.
"COVID-19 has had minimal impact on recruitment to permanent positions, however has meant some agency nurses and locum doctors have had decreased availability due to movement restrictions.
"We know many people who move here for work come because Mackay Base Hospital is big enough to be challenged professionally, but small enough to know everyone."
Mackay had slightly more health job vacancies than Rockhampton, which had 113 jobs in the sector.
Townsville had 158 vacancies in the health sector.
Construction and trade
MACKAY residents are sheltering from economic insecurity in new homes, as building and construction grows despite the recession.
Adzuna found there were 127 job vacancies in the construction and trade industry last week, with jobs going for boilers, fitters and cabinet makers.
Mackay had the third highest total for regional construction and trade vacancies, behind Newcastle, NSW and the Gold Coast.
Mackay and Whitsunday Master Builders regional manager Malcolm Hull said the demand for tradies was being driven by the region's coronavirus response.
Mr Hull said three factors were propelling the skills shortage: the housing stimulus packages, closed borders and relatively stable unemployment figures.
"It's putting a particular demand on construction at the moment," he said.
Mr Hull said there was a high demand for qualified tradespeople, particularly in home construction and renovations.
He said 40 new homes were approved in August alone and 85 were given the green light across June and July.
Once the machines hit the worksite, Mr Hull said Mackay could expect a construction boom.
Mr Hull said the impending projects were a positive indication for the region, as it signalled people were still ready to invest in their home despite the economic doom and gloom.
"Mackay is looking quite healthy," he said.
"It's a great time to be building.
"If people want to build a house, this is the time to do it."
Mackay was not alone in benefiting from the construction surplus, he said, with demand growing across the country, which was widening the skills gap.
"Usually not all areas are busy at the same time," he said.
Mr Hull said typically a large portion of the construction workforce was migratory, moving to where the jobs were.
But he said federal construction grants and Queensland borders being locked meant these workers were staying closer to home.
Mr Hull said this could become an issue, as cyclone and disaster repairs often needed these migratory workers to come in to meet the surplus of jobs.
"It could cause some problems," he said.
"But we encourage people to hire local workers … they understand what is required."
As demand increased in the region's construction sector, Mr Hull encouraged the industry to help train "the next generation of builders" by taking on apprentices.
He encouraged school leavers to consider their future in the construction industry and take on apprenticeship roles.