Credit:Illustration: Cathy Wilcox

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Employers must change their expectations

As a human resource professional with 25 years’ experience, I am reading the media commentary about the skills shortages with some bemusement. Having worked in recruitment in sectors with supposed worker shortages – eg, disability services – my experience is that candidate numbers are down from about 70 to 150 to about 50 to 70 per role. Yes, the quality of candidates has gone down, but there are still plenty of people applying.

I am a woman in my early 50s. I have post-graduate qualifications, excellent experience and a stable employment history. Recently I was made redundant due to structural change, with my employer losing money post-COVID. I applied for 70 roles in four months and I am now in a lower-level, temporary role. If I have that much difficulty finding another job, with a good resume and excellent qualifications, I worry about the average person.

I understand that in low-skilled roles there may be fewer candidates as employers do not wish to, or cannot afford to, pay higher wages. However, to employers I say: change your strategies and expectations. Give the long-term unemployed a chance. Fund traineeships for young people. Hire older Australians. Reduce your expectations that candidates must have experience in your industry. Hire people who are living with disabilities. Value the employees you have now and treat them well.

Employers must invest more in keeping their own workers, paying them more and investing in training. Increasing the level of migration at a time when Australia has a housing shortage will only hurt the most vulnerable – our young and older Australians who cannot now afford to buy or rent a home.
Name withheld, Wantirna

Risk that some will be enrol only for financial reasons

I am frustrated by the state government’s plan to recruit 10,000 nurses and midwives by paying for their degrees (The Age, 29/8). Nursing is, and should be, a vocation. The conditions in hospitals should be vastly improved. Better pay, better physical conditions so that the caring role required is supported and recompensed.
Throwing out a bait such as “no training fees” will mean many people who never would have entertained the thought of working in the health industry may take up the offer for financial reasons. God help the patients.
Jan Drohan, Balwyn

Nurses who gave their all in pandemic are forgotten

Dan Andrews, I applaud the new initiative to enable people to study nursing without having to pay fees. But what about helping those bloody fantastic nurses who stayed and endured over the last few years? I know an experienced emergency nurse who, while working understaffed every day during the pandemic, found the determination to complete a higher qualification – a masters of nursing. But now she has thousands of dollars in HECS debt. How about wiping out her debt? Encourage her and her colleagues to stay.
Debbie Millington, Ocean Grove

So many industries need government help

The Victorian government’s offer to pay the HECS debts of new nurses is a great start. Can it be extended to teachers and other essential industries? Any offer to an industry in need is just one part of the story but how are we going to get fruit pickers, hospitality workers, and aged care and disability workers? The consequences of COVID-19 will linger longer than the virus and that certainly is not over yet despite what many of the unmasked think.
Dennis Fitzgerald, Box Hill

A convenient announcement just before the election

The effects of Daniel Andrews’ plan to increase the number of nurses and midwives will only be felt in three years time. Meanwhile there is no positive solution to our current medical crisis. A state election is approaching fast.
Christine Baker, Rosanna


Is this a better way?

We need more doctors, nurses, teachers and aged care workers. And we need them now. Is a university the best place to prepare teachers and nurses?

Before expensive university courses, there were teacher training colleges and training hospitals – combining theory and practical, hands-on experience.

A bursary came with a commitment to continue in the field for a set period. This guaranteed secure, paid employment for that time. The young teacher or nurse continued to learn and, through the experience, become highly skilled.
Wendy Brennan, Bendigo

Unequal education system

There is no doubt staff shortages will have a significant impact on students with disability (The Age, 27/8). However, this is occurring because of long-standing, systemic inadequacies. Countless inquiries have highlighted the inequity and discrimination these students experience.

The issues include inadequate funding and resources, insufficient pre and post-teacher training and a systemic culture of low expectations. A key problem is that the learning needs and experiences of students with disability are typically seen to be the responsibility and domain of staff directly involved, or those in “specialist” settings.

Most classes today have students with disability. It is imperative that all staff have knowledge and expertise which ensures these students can reliably access their education and any required supports or modifications. All staff need to be confident and competent in educating students with disability. A strengthened education system will benefit everyone.
Stephanie Gotlib, Collingwood

It’s the people’s game

Thank you, Communications Minister Michelle Rowland, for standing up to the AFL over free-to-air television rights (Monday Media/29/8). AFL chief executive Gill McLachlan has already sold out to the betting lobby. His next move was to sell off fans to pay TV and force many into subscriptions they cannot afford.
Tony Jackson, Fitzroy

Campaign is a flop, PM

Which bright spark in the Prime Minister’s media team came up with flaunting American Shaquille O’Neal as some sort of overseas, celebrity influencer for Australia’s Indigenous Voice to Parliament?

O’Neal’s “Whatever you need from me, just let me know” – making him sound like a puppet awaiting the pulling of the strings – and Anthony Albanese’s response, “Fantastic”, were indeed just that. Imaginative or fanciful, remote from reality. Except that this is reality in the woke world of influencers and superficiality.
Susan Caughey, Glen Iris

Serious lack of vision

George Brandis – “Dutton must play the long game” (Comment, 29/8) – demonstrates in a nutshell what is wrong with the Liberal Party and the lessons it has not learnt from its election loss. He advocates opposing something simply because it damages the opponent, and may bring political advantage. Where is the part about a vision for the country?

Cartoonists are right to depict Peter Dutton in Tony Abbott’s budgie smugglers: Dutton is simply recycling the Abbott brutal attack as a modus operandi. I do not want to vote for that.
Barbara Boxhall, Glen Iris

Face up to emergency

George Brandis wants the Coalition to “change the conversation from global warming to the effect of more ambitious emissions reduction targets on household budgets”. He seems to see global warming as a political problem to be managed, rather than a catastrophic emergency. Is there any clearer evidence of why the Liberals are now seen by many voters as yesterday’s men?
Jill Baird, North Melbourne

When politics comes first

George Brandis’ arguments in support of Peter Dutton’s opposition to the climate legislation, unwillingness to commit to the Indigenous Voice to parliament and refusal to attend the jobs summit shows the moral bankruptcy of the Liberal Party and the triumph of politics over policy.
Trudy Wyse, North Fitzroy

Pathetic lack of action

Thank goodness for the investigations into the cosmetic surgery industry by The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and 60 Minutes because, for some reason, the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency is obviously not doing its job. It sounds reminiscent of the government regulators of the casino industry. Absolutely pathetic.
Russell Brims, Bentleigh East

Where money should go

How much money does one need to live a good life? It has been long established that any trickle-down effect resulting from tax cuts for the wealthy is not a reality – in fact they exacerbate the inequalities between the haves and have-nots.

If Labor is to reclaim its historical ideology and be a real alternative to the Liberal Party, the proposed tax cuts must be scrapped and redirected to education, aged care, research, health, arts and culture and other social spending that would make life easier for all Australians.
Barbara Mothersdale, Hawthorn

Surely a man of strength

Nick Bryant (Comment, 27/8) asserts that Joe Biden is weak. The evidence fails to support this proposition. Biden extracted the US from Afghanistan while Donald Trump was cowered by his generals. He has stood up to Vladimir Putin while Trump kissed the autocrat’s hem.

Last year Biden invested massively in infrastructure while Trump paid mere lip service. His Inflation Reduction Act is an economic plan to combat climate change, a triumph over the reactionary and disruptive Republicans. Some weakie.
Kevin Summers, Bentleigh

Pandemic rule? What rule?

I have been a justice of the peace (Sunday Age, 28/8) for 20 years. During the lockdowns, a man rang and asked if I would sign some documents. I told him yes and that I lived in Box Hill.

“I’ll be there in 45 minutes. I am at St Kilda,” he said. Click – before I had time to tell him he was outside the five-kilometre limit. He arrived. I signed the papers. He was buying a house and had to have the documents at the bank that day. He was so ecstatic, I did not have the heart to tell him he had broken the five-kilometre rule.
Brian Pell, Box Hill

The stigma of ’dobbing’

Thank you, Glenn Murphy (Letters, 29/8). Maybe Fran Bailey should have spoken up earlier, but just remember that in Australia we seldom dob people in. Added to this she is female and the blame would have fallen on her and not Scott Morrison. Having said that, it was common knowledge that he got the flick from the tourism job.
Paulien George, Berwick

Too hard for tourists

Your correspondent – “In praise of our myki” (Letter, 29/8) – should be thankful she wasn’t a Sydney resident visiting Melbourne and hoping to travel on public transport. Unless she had stayed close to a 7-Eleven store or a major train station to purchase a myki, she would not have been able to board any form of public transport without risk of a fine.

In addition, it is highly likely she would have returned home with a credit on her card which would eventually have been absorbed by myki unless she returned to Melbourne soon. What other city in the world uses such a tourist-unfriendly system?
Diana Posner, Brighton

Losing customers, 101

I get constant emails from Qantas, offering insurance and rewards. Is it as responsive to insurance claims as it is to lost luggage, cancelled flights and refunds? Recently I was offered the $50 voucher but my husband was not. We are both Frequent Flyers. Qantas, you are a master class in how to trash a brand and you have lost us.
Rosslyn Jennings, North Melbourne

The rising cost of projects

The social cost-benefit ratio of 0.6 to 0.7, as assessed by the Victorian Parliamentary Budget Office for the first two sections of the Suburban Rail Loop (The Age, 29/8), has revealed several important attitudes.

Premier Daniel Andrews’ attempts to justify the project show little understanding of the meaning of the cost-benefit ratio, and the state opposition’s criticism shows how quickly it forgets its own experience with these assessments.

A cost-benefit ratio of 0.5 was allocated to Stage 2 of the Western Highway Duplication, under then planning minister Matthew Guy. It continues to be mired in cultural and environmental problems.

When project costs inevitably escalate – as they also have on the highway duplication – it becomes more difficult to justify the ongoing expense. And when new challenges arise during the life of the project, it becomes increasingly likely and desirable that it never reaches completion.
Russell Pearse, Ararat

Move on, prime minister

Anthony Albanese, I was a fan. I thought you were bringing great hope for Australia. It seems you have returned to the past and have demeaned yourself and sunk my hopes. Forget about Scott Morrison and return to bringing Australia together for a better future.
Ivor Chappell, Barwon Heads

More golf tales and sheep

“Shoo sheep, it’s our turn” (Letters, 29/8) reminds me of following my dad around the Merrigum golf course in the 1950s, hitting sheep droppings with my trusty, 5 iron golf club. It was easier to get a hole in one when you could chip a handful of sheep pellets, rather than a single golf ball, at it but distance on the par fives was more difficult.
Robert Scheffer, Bayswater North

Character and strength

Thank you, Sarah Abo and Natalie Clancy, for your sensitive story on Danielle Laidley. There is so much to admire about Danielle.
Susan Munday, Bentleigh East


Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding


Resources Minister Madeleine King comparing carbon dioxide to “the bubbles in your soda water” (29/8) is the equivalent of Scott Morrison bringing a lump of coal into parliament.
Atholie Harden, Williamstown

Why the Coalition won’t do any thing about Scott Morrison: he knows too much about its inner workings and wouldn’t have any qualms about talking.
Daniela Spadaro, Pascoe Vale

Shaq O’Neal, a gambling advocate, tells me to vote for the Voice. Albo, you have well and truly lost me. Using celebrities and influencers is not the way to go.
Elizabeth Foster, Box Hill

It’s official. George Brandis (29/8) has confirmed the Liberals learnt nothing from the election result.
John Davey, Alphington

Dutton may well not have put a foot wrong. He hasn’t put one right yet either.
Vivienne Martin, Coburg

Monique Ryan is an extremist (29/8). She is extremely able.
Bill Pell, Emerald

Lucky to have Morrison (27/8)? That’s 10years of my life that I’m not going to get back.
Jae Sconce, Moonee Ponds

The Jobs Summit requires open minds. Adam Bandt’s dogmatic ultimatum reveals the opposite.
Peter Bennett, Clifton Hill

Fran Bailey wasn’t the only one who was gobsmacked when Morrison became prime minister.
Anne Flanagan, Box Hill North


Thank you, Danielle Laidley, for sharing your story and your struggles (29/8). You have gifted us to reflect on what it is to be comfortable with one’s self.
Judith Morrison, Nunawading

How do businesses that retrenched capable 50-somethings in the past few years feel about the labour shortage?
Steve Melzer, Hughesdale

We managed to ban cigarette advertising. When will gambling advertising be banned?
Greg Lee, Red Hill

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