Skilled migrants critical to filling regional Australia’s job boom

Couple, Anil Ancharya and Ruju Sharma Neupane and their regional career stories are a part of a new initiative by the Regional Australia Institute, highlighting the almost unprecedented number of skilled jobs on offer in the regions.

Moving to Australia from Nepal, Anil and Ruju first made their home in Temora, near Wagga Wagga, and now, Singleton, in the Hunter region, carving out careers in their chosen fields of engineering and dentistry.

RAI CEO Liz Ritchie said the Institute’s recently released, Regional Jobs 2022: The Big Skills Challenge, showed in December 2022 regional online job vacancies grew at three times the rate of metropolitan areas, including for professional roles.

“Regional vacancies were up 10% year on year and the number of roles advertised in the regions grew by 97% compared to December 2017 – more than doubling the metropolitan vacancy rates,” Ms Ritchie said.

Medical practitioners and nurses were the most in demand job category in regional Australia in December with more than 6000 vacancies, up 404% since the decade previous.  While engineers are one of the top five occupations ‘in demand’ across the regions, with more than 1600 vacancies in December, up 65% in the last five years.

Anil and Ruju first settled in Sydney before the move to Temora switched them on to the job and lifestyle benefits of life outside city bounds.

“While I was in Sydney I was working and too exhausted for the weekends,” Anil said.

“It has been a really positive experience.  The work-life balance is perfect.”

Ruju said while she was initially worried about leaving Sydney, she quickly felt at ease in Temora due to its welcoming community.

“It’s not about being detached from the city life, it’s about being closer to a healthier version of life,” Ruju said.

The top four most in demand roles in regional Australia in December were:

  • Medical Practitioners and Nurses (6166 online jobs advertised)
  • General Inquiry Clerks, Call Centre Workers and Receptionists (5941)
  • Carers and Aides (5416)
  • Sales Assistants and Salespersons (4527)

Preliminary economic modelling undertaken by the RAI indicates filling these positions would have significant economic impact on both the regional and national economies.

“The top four roles in demand represent a total of $1.76bn in direct wages paid to residents of regional Australia. Filling them would create an immediate $1.24bn in economic activity,” Ms Ritchie said.

As part of his role as an engineering technical officer with Temora Shire Council, Anil oversaw extensive repairs on the local road network, caused by flooding in the region last year.

He said the move to Temora was not only beneficial for his lifestyle but his career also.

“I am working in my chosen field and building on the knowledge I have gained in my previous roles,” Anil said.

Through its Regionalisation Ambition 2032, a 10 year framework to guide regional growth, the RAI is calling for a National Population Plan to plan for regional settlement. One of the 20 targets is to double the number of migrants settling in regional Australia by 2032.

“Currently under 20 per cent of overseas arrivals settle in the regions,” Ms Ritchie said.

The RAI outlined the critical need to increase the region’s share of skilled migrants in its submission to the recent independent review of Australia’s migration system.

“We need governments of all persuasions working together to ensure more migrants get the opportunity and understand the benefits of living regionally,” Ms Ritchie said.

To be inspired by the story of Anil and Ruju and other Australians who’ve #MadeTheMove to regional Australia, visit the RAI’s Move to More website.

Your favourite towns and regions

Save your favourite towns and regions here and send them to yourself or share it with friends and family.