Australians struggling to find work during the coronavirus pandemic have signed up to an ‘Uber-style’ delivery service as online shopping trends continue to surge.
Blu Couriers, run by Aramex Australia, is a crowd sourcing operation based on the Uber transport model where delivery drivers can use their own vehicles and pick up work at their own accord.
During the COVID-19 crisis, Aramex has seen driver demand for Blu Couriers increase by 24 per cent from May to June, when compared to the same time last year.
Emily Martin, from Richmond, west of Sydney, signed up to be a courier at the end of July after struggling to find work in the retail sector.
The 32-year-old had taken a year off after giving birth to her daughter Jasmine, but when she returned to the workforce, it was nothing like when she left.
‘I was ready and willing to get back into the workforce in March/April 2020. Then the pandemic happened and suddenly the world changed,’ Ms Martin said.
‘My old job in retail was no longer available. Nothing was available.
‘I was applying like crazy for months but there are so many people out of work and I wasn’t even getting callbacks.’
Ms Martin saw a Facebook advertisement for Blu Couriers and applied immediately. Within days, she was back working.
‘It offered flexibility, which for me was a big tick, as a mum with a small child,’ she said.
‘You could start immediately, which really appealed because I needed work right away.’
The mum-of-one said her new career path has given her greater flexibility with her family and has left her feeling ‘less stressed’.
‘It’s better pay than retail work. This job gives me flexibility to wake up, see my child and then work when it suits me,’ she said.
‘It might not be the most complex job but hey it’s work and there’s money coming in. I’m really happy to have it.’
On an average day, Ms Martin wakes up early to feed her daughter before logging on to the Blu Couriers website, where she chooses her jobs for the day.
Ms Martin explains she can focus her work on specific areas in Sydney, depending on the deliveries on offer. She then drives to the depot to pick up her parcels and begins to make the deliveries.
‘Depending on how long you want to work each day and how many parcels you want to deliver, you choose the jobs that suit you best and it can work out very well,’ she said.
‘If I wanted to go out a second time in the afternoon to deliver a second lot of parcels and earn more money, I could.
‘For now, I like to be home by about 3pm when my daughter is waking up from her nap. Starting early and finishing early also means I miss all the peak hour traffic.’
The flexibility has alleviated her ‘mum guilt’ as she works four days a week and during the mornings.
Last week it was announced that more than one million Australians are out of work for the first time since records began.
The unemployment rate rose to 7.5 per cent in July from 7.4 per cent the previous month, despite another large jump in the number of people who found work.
The head of the Reserve Bank warns high unemployment is likely to plague Australia for some time and the economy will not return to normal until the pandemic is under control.
The central bank expects unemployment to reach 10 per cent by year’s end and predicts it will still be at seven per cent in two years.
‘High unemployment is likely to be with us for some time and I think that should be a concern for us all,’ Philip Lowe told a parliamentary hearing on Friday.
Ms Martin said she would recommend Blu Couriers to any Australians struggling to secure a job during the economic fallout of the pandemic.
‘Get out there, get paid weekly, know what you’re earning. You’re winning!’ she said.
‘You can take on extra shifts when you want to earn more money.’
CEO of Aramex Australia Peter Lipinski said Blu Couriers was initially created to handle overflow at peak times when we there were an exceptionally high number of parcels to deliver.
‘Originally it was mostly utilised at Christmas time and during Black Friday sales events when many thousands of extra parcels had to be delivered,’ he said.
‘During the past few months as COVID-related trading conditions have seen our delivery volumes increase by 48 per cent, Blu Couriers is more popular than ever.’
Lockdown restrictions introduced to stop the spread of coronavirus have meant Australians have not had the same flexibility when heading to the shops.
Victoria continues to battle second wave of infections and Melburnians in stage four lockdown are only allowed to go the store for essential items like groceries.
Mr Lipinski said Australians looking for work are signing up in record numbers.
‘We’ve got people signed up who previously worked as retail staff, medical personnel and in corporate jobs,’ he said.
‘Signing up to become a Blu Courier is simple and fast: Anybody who is interested, can apply online. Once approved, they can start earning money the next day.’
Mr Lipinski believes the opportunities will keep on expanding due to the continued growth of online shopping.
It’s estimated Blu Couriers will recruit at least another 15 per cent of drivers before Christmas to meet the demand.
Blu Couriers, which is Australia’s largest crowd sourcing operation in logistics, is available in key metropolitan and regional locations across Australia.
Aramex Australia, formerly Fastway Couriers, is a leading global provider of comprehensive logistics and transport operating in over 60 countries.