Innovation & creativity: skill strengths for NSW’s Northern Rivers

Northern Rivers is one the fastest growing region in NSW. With its world heritage sites, national parks, rainforests and coastline, its strength is in its diversity. It’s popular for innovative business opportunities, attracting creative people.

The 2016 Northern Rivers Regional Plan outlined a vision for the region – to make it a healthy, prosperous and sustainable future for the communities of the Northern Rivers region.

Seven regional priorities were outlined, with 23 initiatives to make it a reality. This included connected communities, a learning region, natural infrastructure, sustainable industry, inclusive communities, regional identity, and a collaborative region.

Tourism and hospitality, building and construction and retail are key sectors for employment.

Health, education and community service jobs are on the rise. Because of its proximity between Sydney and Brisbane, Northern Rivers has a great ICT infrastructure – pushing the growth of telecommuting in the past two years.

Regional Development Australia Northern Rivers is committed to unlocking further economic potential by investing in further improvement of telecommunications and broadband access. The local council is a strong advocate for the NBN. Northern Rivers Broadband is a group of councils working together to prepare for NBN rollout and improve telecommunications in the Northern Rivers.

Younger people seeking an alternative lifestyle with opportunities

The region’s diverse cultural and social opportunities are attracting younger people looking for an alternative lifestyle. Music, festivals, markets and arts events are common in Northern Rivers, bringing new skills to the region.

Earlier this year, the Government announced a $1 million investment to boost innovation and jobs growth in Northern Rivers – through a two-year partnership with the Southern Cross University, Lismore Campus.

The innovation hub will serve as a space for Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs), students and researchers to collaborate and create new ideas.

“This partnership will help bring forward new ideas, job opportunities and industries for the Northern Rivers region,” Minister for Regional Development, John Barilaro said.

The space is expected to open for university-industry engagement before the end of the year.

The Hon. Victor Dominello MP, New South Wales Government’s Minister for Finance, Services and Property, believes NSW has been the ‘engine room of innovation for a number of years.’

Dominello spoke at Sydney’s Disruptive Innovation Forum last month – exploring the role of innovation in driving productivity growth and developing new industries. The state is committed to boosting innovation, as outlined in the NSW Innovation Strategy.

The Government is taking a key role in creating an environment for innovation. Fostering research, equipping people with skills for the future, and building on the state’s existing strengths are all focal points of the plan.

Northern Rivers is on the cusp of transformation. It’s a popular tourist area in between big cities that’s turning heads.

If you’d like to learn more about regional workforce development and skills needs analysis, please contact Wendy Perry at

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