Peak regional body welcomes Jobs & Skills Australia; calls for focus on regional workforce

Regional Australia Institute (RAI) CEO Liz Ritchie has applauded the Albanese Government’s first step towards the establishment of Jobs and Skills Australia.

“During May, we saw an unprecedented number of jobs advertised in regional Australia of 86,500. This was down only slightly in June to 83,000, representing an almost 25% increase from the same time last year and almost doubling in the last 5 years,” Liz Ritchie said

“These numbers present both a significant opportunity and a challenge for regional Australia and, indeed, the nation,” Ms Ritchie said.

“Regional employers across the country have told us that finding staff to fill current and future roles is one of the biggest challenges facing growth in their business.

“The RAI welcomes the Government’s commitment, under the leadership of Skills and Training Minister Brendan O’Connor, to assess Australia’s jobs and skills gap and plan for Australia’s future workforce.”

Ms Ritchie said a key focus for Jobs and Skills Australia must include a thorough examination of the workforce needs of regional Australia.

“Our regions are on a trajectory of growth and prosperity. The RAI’s Regional Movers Index found the number of people moving to regional areas rose by almost 17% to reach a new five-year high in the March quarter 2022, almost doubling pre-pandemic levels.”

“To propel this growth, our regions require a greatly bolstered workforce compromising a combination of low to high-skilled labour – made up of local and international workers.

“Solutions must range from improving regional high school retention and more jobs-focussed, place-based tertiary and vocational education opportunities; to visa and migration systems that cater for the labour needs of regional Australia.

“Meeting the complex jobs and skills needs of the regions requires a collaborative effort between all tiers of government, industry, and education and training providers.

“It also requires consideration of the real and perceived barriers to working outside capital cities, including the availability of housing and essential services.

“While most regional areas are nearing full employment, there are still a number of areas, such as outback Queensland, mid-north South Australia and NSW’s New England, where unemployment remains stubbornly high. This tells us while there are jobs on offer, the skills of locals in these areas aren’t in alignment with the opportunities.

Ms Ritchie said she hoped Jobs and Skills Australia would take up the mantle in beginning to map skill development with employment needs.

“I commend Minister O’Connor and the Government’s leadership on this issue, and welcome the upcoming National Jobs and Skills Summit, where the RAI expects the workforce needs of regional Australia to be front and centre,” Liz Ritchie concluded

The RAI looks forward to working collaboratively with the Minister and all those with a vested interested in the future of regional Australia.

For more information about the job vacancies in regional Australia, click here to access the RAI’s Regional Job Vacancy Map.

For media enquiries contact:

Amanda Barwick
Regional Australia Institute
0429 142232

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