Skills for the Future
In order to assist employers, job-seekers and training and education providers, we undertook the first ever comprehensive Skill Shortages Survey specific to our region and gained valuable input from businesses from across the region. More than 100 employers from throughout Northern Inland NSW participated in the comprehensive online survey over the past 12 months. In undertaking this survey, our message to businesses was ‘help us to help you’ and we were delighted to hear back from so many different businesses, large and small.
Data now supports what we have often heard as we travel the region, Northern Inland business growth is being throttled by the difficulty in finding and retaining skilled and experienced employees across many industries throughout the region. The skills for the future report explores the issues in more detail, to help us work with businesses and agencies in the region to find real solutions.
The Northern Inland region of NSW is dependent on agriculture as its predominant economic driver and has seen unemployment figures consistently higher than the NSW average over the past six years, with youth unemployment concerns prompting renewed focus on innovative programs, like the Wool Works Shearing School. The trend is not expected to abate with the ongoing drought.
Population decline in some parts of the region has exacerbated skill shortages, while a lack of access to formal training and the centralisation of TAFE courses have also reduced the local skilled labour market, impeding business growth. Over 80 percent of businesses surveyed reported difficulties in filling job vacancies, while 75 percent said that industry experience is more valued than qualifications, indicating how retention of staff is as critical a challenge as recruitment. Consistent feedback during RDANI’s skills audit investigations was that finding staff with work readiness or work ethic can be more important to local employers than finding staff with the skills they need and can be an even greater source of frustration.
The report presents the data in a very accessible way and illustrates the vital role that Skilled Migration programs have in helping to address local labour needs. While it is also important to stem the outward migration of our quality young people and to ensure education, training and job opportunities are available locally. However, the settlement of skilled migrant workers in the Northern Inland is clearly a necessity, despite the recent political and media hype about reducing migration numbers.
The survey has provided a localised snapshot of skill shortages and other labour market issues. Issues around job vacancies, skills shortages and youth unemployment are not accurately reflected by job advertisements, which are the traditional source of job and unemployment data. Employers know from past recruitment efforts and local knowledge if advertising for a skilled position will be worth a go or a waste of time and money. The data we have produced reflects real insights, direct from local employers.
Discover more in the full Skills for the Future report below.
This project was supported by the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet