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Wednesday, January 27, 2021

New facility to provide jobs boost in the Hunter

There is some good news on the job front in the Hunter as not-for-profit housing provider, Compass Housing, prepares to open its own property maintenance facility in Beresfield.

The My Place Property Maintenance facility will ultimately create 40 permanent Compass Housing jobs.

Compass recently placed adverts for 18 positions, covering plumbers, electricians, carpenters and cleaners.

The new jobs are set to help the unemployment rate in the area.

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% while, in the Hunter Valley, the rate rose from 5.9% to 7.4%.

The youth unemployment figure in Newcastle is 24.8%.

Staff at Compass’ new facility will service and maintain 2,600 social, affordable and disability housing homes that it 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, which employs seven people.

Chief operating officer, Lisa Tierney, said the plan was to employ more people after the initial 12-month establishment phase, including apprentices to be supervised by qualified staff.

Compass will target those apprenticeships to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, with 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.

“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,” she said.

Maintenance plumber Aiden Birrell joined the Muswellbrook service earlier this year, but the Newcastle resident will soon work out of the Beresfield facility.

“Working for a not-for-profit like Compass, as opposed to small plumbing businesses, means I have more career options,” Mr Birrell said.  

“And, I know I am doing something that is making the lives of people living in social housing better.”