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COVID-19 Has Shown How to Regionalise the Workforce

COVID-19 has changed many of our lives, including our perspectives on what we value, and how we work. For many, this means considering a change to the lifestyle that living in regional areas offers. The experience has also removed one of the most significant barriers to regionalising the workforce, as many have learnt how to work remotely using online technologies, proving to corporate managers that teams can be effective even when they are geographically dispersed. Teams no longer need to be centrally located together in metropolitan areas, they can be located around the country, including regional areas. This shift in perspective provides our region with the opportunity to not only attract more residents from cities, but to also retain the youth that previously would have relocated to peruse their dream career path.

“If the COVID-19 pandemic has proven anything, it’s that you can work from regional Australia and do any job. The jobs that were once only attainable if you lived in a capital city can now be done from anywhere.” said Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack.

The Big Movers report released this week by the Regional Australia Institute, shows that there has already been a shift in population with more people moving from Sydney and Melbourne to regional areas, than those who moved to the cities, which could be built upon with this change in perspective.

RAI Chief Executive Officer Liz Ritchie says the notion of how we work has been turned on its head and she hopes this change will see significant population growth in regions, following on from a trend that has already been set over a decade. “From 2011 to 2016, our two biggest cities, Sydney and Melbourne lost more residents to regions than they gained – and this was well before COVID-19. Over the last few months, we’ve all had to change how we work and this has allowed staff and employers to see that location is no longer a barrier for where we choose to work.” Ms Ritchie said.

“Now is the time to work together with industry, government and regional communities to ensure regionalisation of the workforce,” Ms Ritchie said. “As a country, we are an extremely mobile nation, and we have a propensity to change our address at twice the rate of people in most OECD countries. If location is no longer a barrier for employment, it’s possible that the trend line over the next decade could see an even greater swing to regions – and this is the RAI’s ambition,” Ms Ritchie said.

In the next month’s newsletter, we will be having a closer look at the findings in The Big Movers report by the RAI and what it means for the Northern Inland and how we can utilise this information for the future of our region.

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