The Government has released their vision for turning Northern Australia into an “economic powerhouse” in the next 20 years.
The $1.2bn plan outlines a $600 million roads package to improve routes to the north, a $200 million Water Infrastructure Development fund and a $75 million Co-operative Research Centre. Boosting links with the broader Asia-Pacific region will be a focus on the centre and money will be pumped into tourism, to attract investment in the region.
And there’s a boost for medical research too, with $8.5m funding to commercialise research into tropical disease treatments with another $6.9m to be spent on research activities, including James Cook University.
Northern Australia: Our strongest job market
A National Forum for Regional Development Australia Committees was held to discuss “working together to strengthen economic growth” including linkages with government policies and programs.
The Government is working to make Northern Australia a more attractive place to live and work.
According to the 2015 CommSec State of the States report, the Northern Territory has Australia’s strongest job market, but less people are making the move north.
Ranked first for construction work, the report reveals NT as prosperous, but population growth was down on decade-average levels. Economic growth rose to 37.2%, unemployment was down 1.4% and construction spending was up 47%, compared with the average over the previous decade.
Steve Shepherd, Randstad’s Employment Market Analyst sees job opportunities in the north extending beyond the construction sector.
“In July , the majority of new job ads posted were in the public services, hospitality and retail sector. Mining was also high on the agenda. With such a mix of sectors craving a mix of job roles, such as chefs, sales reps, nurses and retail managers, the state will continue to have a strong labour force in the coming months.”
Shepherd believes the challenge lies in finding skilled workers, in the small pool of unemployed – which is at 4.2%, compared to the national 6.4% average.
Mining, education, utilities, agriculture & fishing
The overall share of jobs in education and training, utilities, administration and agriculture, forestry and fishing closely reflect the national average.
Mining represents 9% of all jobs in the north — compared with only 2% nationally. Around two thirds of these are in remote areas of Western Australia, the Mackay region and the Queensland Outback.
Around 125,000 miners also reside in Perth, servicing projects across Australia, including in the north. The mining sector also supports a large, indirect workforce through the provision of goods and services.
Addressing skills shortages up north
The Government is working to support local businesses in attracting talent and the NT Workforce Attraction Program is just one example. This program helps raise the profile of jobs and the great lifestyle in the NT – to attract workers.
It’s extremely important to develop the skills of people in Northern Australia for employment, particularly in the sectors with the greatest skills shortage.
Businesses will require an adaptable labour force with a depth and breadth of skills. Retaining workers and better matching their skills – combined with better use of new technologies – will drive productivity in the north.
Workforce plans can help support growth, from the ground up and if you’d like to find out more, please contact Wendy Perry, via firstname.lastname@example.org.