Jobless find work is not easy to locate

More than 17,000 Cantabs seek work

Last updated 05:00 12/01/2013
jolita gray
KIRK HARGREAVES

ON LOOKOUT: Jolita Gray, 16, gives her CV to Daniel Gray of Amazon.

catherine cotton
WORKING: Catherine Cotton, 50, is ready to get off a sickness benefit and into work.

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More than 17,000 Cantabrians are looking for work. NICOLE MATHEWSON speaks to four people about their experiences hunting for employment.

Sixteen-year-old Jolita Gray has been looking for a part-time job for almost a year.

The teenager finished high school in October and plans to complete a part-time health and beauty course in Christchurch this year, but needs a part-time job to fit around her classes.

She has applied for up to 40 positions, including bakery and retail jobs, and is continually handing her CV in to shops.

"It's just so much stress and it's just so hard to get a job. I just feel like I can't get a job because they just want experience and I just don't have that," she aid.

Catherine Cotton has applied for more than 50 jobs in the past four months, but has not heard back from most potential employers.

"I'm 50 years old, so I don't know if my age has anything to do with it. I haven't even got an interview," she said.

Cotton has been on a sickness benefit for about two years, but has "fully recovered" and is ready to get back into work. "There are people out there who are really looking for work. If anyone thinks living on a benefit is easy, it's not."

She said she was willing to take on any type of work, up to 25 hours a week, and gradually moving towards full-time work.

"I've done cleaning and that sort of thing, but I'm a hard worker. I can't climb up and down ladders all day because of my age, but that's the only thing I can't do."

Wendy Hay has 32 years' experience as a primary school teacher but has been unable to find permanent work in Christchurch since moving to the city more than two years ago.

The 53-year-old moved with her husband from Hamilton in December 2010 to be closer to family, and has been seeking work since.

"I've had enough work to pay the bills, but that's all. We haven't had enough to move forward," she said.

Her goal is to get a fulltime position, but the schools shake-up announced in September - which proposes to close 13 schools and put 26 through some form of merger - has made things more difficult. "They're all putting off hiring permanent staff in the meantime," she said.

Ross Williams, 56, has worked as a machinery operator for the minimum wage for the past seven years.

Similar jobs were offering more than $18 an hour and Williams had applied for about 30 over the last year, trying to find one that would allow him to earn more.

He had been to about 16 interviews, but never heard back.

"I think the main problem is that I'm over 50, but I've got years and years of experience with machinery. I'm not that bad [physically]; the job I do now is reasonably physical."

Williams also had experience in retail and kitchen installation work, and would consider taking on work in those areas again. He was also willing to undertake training, if it was affordable.

"I'd be happy with at least $16 an hour."

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- The Press

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