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Life after redundancy

Life after redundancy

Elizabeth Allen

Despite a prediction that almost 1 million Australians will be out of work by the end of next year, four out of six unemployed people interviewed by The Courier-Mail earlier this year have swum against the tide.

Three months on, they have found new jobs-some on short-term contracts-mostly in their chosen field.

A fifth, who is still unemployed, is about to complete an MBA and a sixth person did not wish to speak publicly after being unable to find work.

Mark Wuschke, 48, previously a business analyst with a Brisbane software company

For Mark Wuschke, life is suddenly looking up after six months being unemployed. He began a new job this week, a three-month contract as an IT consultant with a Queensland energy company.

Wuschke is ecstatic, albeit still coming to terms with his new circumstances. “My brain has turned to mush after having all that time off,” he said.

Married with two teenage children, he describes being jobless as “really, really tough”.

He says the worst was his loss of self-worth and “lots of rejection letters”.

But family relationships stood up to the challenge.

“Everyone has been very understanding,” he said.

While his wife's wage covered groceries, Wuschke was forced to “max out the credit cards” and borrow from family.

“It was quite embarrassing,” he said. “We also had to drop all sport and extracurricular activities.”

Now back in the workforce, his goals are clear: “I'm going to work hard and upgrade my skills because IT moves very quickly.” He hopes his contract will be extended.

Michael Barry, 46, previously a senior engineer with one of Australia's biggest mining companies

Michael Barry has been busy since he lost his job in January.

He is just about to complete an MBA and his wife has him hard at work in the garden.

“I had my last exam for my MBA last week and I have one assignment to hand in,” Barry said.

When that is done, the father-of-three will begin looking in earnest for work in his electrical engineering field, registering with recruiters.

In the meantime, he has applied for advertised jobs and has been improving his cooking skills.

“At the moment I'm still optimistic (on the job front) although the news every day seems to get a little worse,” he said.

“If the worst comes to the worst, I will look for a general handyman job or driving buses or taxis. In the end, you do what you do to survive. I'm reasonably fortunate because my partner still has a job.”

Nick Hutchinson, 32, previously a recruitment manager for an international engineering firm

Nick Hutchinson counts himself lucky to have found temporary work with the State Government.

“It's been pretty tough,” he said. “There's not much out there.

“I've been lucky to land something to keep myself employed.”

He is one month into a three-month contract managing IT projects for the State Government.

Hutchinson found the work through a friend. “It's opened up HR opportunities within government,” he said. “I've applied for a couple and we'll see how I go.”

Hutchinson was flying high before being made redundant in January, having just bought a large house at Kedron on Brisbane's northside.

“My wife's still working, so financially we've been able to keep our heads above water, but we've had to change our ways,” Hutchinson said.

“We're still doing a decent supermarket shop and paying the mortgage but there's not so many social outings.”

Amy Saunders, 22, previously a landscape architect with a large international company

Amy Saunders found a new job after only a month out of work but says that month “felt like a really long time”.

“I still look at job ads,” she said. “There's nothing around in my field.

“I was so lucky; I think I got the last landscape architect job in Brisbane.”

Saunders, who won several university awards, has been employed as a landscape architect with environmental consultants at Windsor.

“It's three minutes from my house; it's more experience, more hands on; something really different,” she said.

But she has learnt a life lesson.

“I've learnt to be wary and never take things like your job for granted.”

Lani Pauli, 24, previously a public relations consultant with a not-for-profit organisation

Lani Pauli was made redundant soon after moving from Sydney to take up a PR job with a Brisbane-based charity.

A University of Southern Queensland graduate, she spent two months out of work, anxiously applying for jobs while staying with friends.

But today she is happily employed as an account manager with a Brisbane PR and marketing agency.

“The worst of being unemployed was the constant rejection and always being on tenterhooks,” Pauli said.

“By the time I got this job I was thinking about casual work. Two months was definitely long enough.”

Pauli said she did not see redundancy coming.

“You don't think it is something that will happen to you,” she said.

“It knocks your confidence. You still wonder, maybe I wasn't as strong as I could have been.

“But in some respects, I'm glad I had the experience. Being redundant drove me to seek this (job) opportunity.”

Financial recovery is ongoing.

“Financially it will take me longer to recover than it took me emotionally,” she said.

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