There is some good news on the job front in the Hunter with locally based housing provider, Compass Housing, setting up its own property maintenance facility in Beresfield.
The My Place Property Maintenance facility will ultimately create 40 permanent Compass Housing jobs. Last week, Compass placed adverts for 18 positions covering plumbers, electricians, carpenters and cleaners.
Staff at the facility will service and maintain 2,600 social, affordable and disability housing homes that Compass manages in the Hunter and on the Central Coast from October 2020. It will also be the headquarters for staff who will be employed to service another 1,800 homes in Cessnock and Taree for which Compass will take over responsibility for maintaining in June 2021.
Compass Housing already has one property maintenance facility in Muswellbrook that employs seven people.
Chief operating officer, Lisa Tierney, said with figures showing Hunter unemployment rising due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the in-house facility provides some good opportunities for local people to work with a leading organisation whose work benefits vulnerable people in the community.
Ms Tierney said the plan was to employ more people after the initial 12-month establishment phase including apprentices to be supervised by its trade qualified staff. Compass will target those apprenticeships to young people from disadvantaged backgroundswith a focus on engaging indigenous youth.
"If you are looking for opportunities to grow and develop your skills and qualifications while making a difference in the community then Compass Housing wants to hear from you," Ms Tierney said.
"Compass Housing is an award-winning employer," she said.
"We offer competitive wages, flexible work arrangements, access to not for profit salary packaging and ongoing professional development including access to an annual training allowance and paid study leave."
She said bringing all property maintenance services in-house will generate savings that can be put back into property upgrades to provide better homes for Compass' tenants.
"As we now either own or have many properties under 20-year leases, we have more certainty to invest in our own property maintenance infrastructure and workforce rather than using temporary, outsourced, contract arrangements which can be expensive."
Carpenter Michael Treutlein (Mayfield, aged 53) and Maintenance Plumber Aiden Birrell (Fletcher, aged 32) both joined the Muswellbrook service earlier this year. The two Newcastle residents will soon work out of the Beresfield facility.
Both men said the security of employment and the good pay and conditions are just some of the benefits of working for Compass Housing.
Mr Birrell said the role suits his qualifications and interests and he is enjoying the autonomy he has in his role.
"Working for a not for profit like Compass, as opposed to small plumbing businesses, means I have more career options too," Mr Birrell said.
"And I know I am doing something that is making the lives of people living in social housing better," he said.
The latest Bureau of Statistics figures show more than 40,000 jobs have been lost in the Hunter since the start of the pandemic in February. The jobless rate for June rose by 1 percentage point in Newcastle and Lake Macquarie on the previous month to 11.1 per cent, while in the Hunter Valley, the rate rose from 5.9 to 7.4 per cent. The youth unemployment figure in Newcastle is 24.8 per cent. Experts say the effective unemployment rates are higher than the official figures.
Compass Housing is a Tier 1, not for profit, community housing provider and an NDIS Specialist Disability Accommodation provider. It manages almost 7000 properties in NSW and Queensland and is continuing to experience growth in operations.
Details of the job vacancies are on Compass Housing's website. Visit www.compasshousing.org/about/careers