Meet the 10.4%

CAREER PATH: Wesley Uniting client Jan Kent gets some instruction from consultant and trainer Don Philbrook.
CAREER PATH: Wesley Uniting client Jan Kent gets some instruction from consultant and trainer Don Philbrook.


AFTER graduating from high school at the end of last year, Nathan Thompson was hopeful of a carpentry or construction apprenticeship.

Jan Kent was a nurse in the Clarence Valley for 34 years before deciding last year on a career change. Unfortunately for Mr Thompson and Mrs Kent, they have become part of the 10.4 per cent of people on the NSW North Coast who are unemployed. The latest labour force figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) show the Mid-North Coast and Richmond-Tweed areas as having the highest unemployment levels in the state.

The figures, taken from the ABS monthly labour force survey, combine the statistical divisions of the Mid-North Coast and the Richmond-Tweed, and show unemployment across the regions had risen to 10.4 percent for May.

This was double the state average, which stood at 5.2 per cent.

Mr Thompson said he did not really care about the figures ? he just wants to start on a career path.

And he has joined Wesley Uniting Employment in Grafton to help him on his way.

"I've come here to Wesley and they've got me on a program here," he said.

"I've looked on the internet and in the paper, (so) I'm doing pretty much doing everything I can do."

Mrs Kent has also joined Wesley Uniting and said she was looking for a new career in either retail or horticulture.

"I've only basically been in nursing (where) you walk into your job, but in the public sector you don't," she said.

"It's dog eat dog, so I'll have to learn how to beat the next person to get my job. So I'm learning from my colleagues here to see how I'm going to get my job."

While the figures appear disconcerting, ABS assistant director of the labour force survey, Peter Bradbury, said the numbers were not always completely accurate because of the small number of people involved in the survey.

"It (the figures) comes from a sample survey, so there is always a sampling variability to take into account," he said.

"It means, particularly on a small number like the number of unemployed persons, the figures actually depend on the number of unemployed people we find."

Mr Bradbury said because the figures tended to fluctuate ? this year alone they have ranged from 8.9 per cent to 10.8 per cent ? longer term trends needed to be looked at to gain the full understanding of the figures.

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