South Australia leading the way for workforce development surrounding ports

A focus on workforce development through government support and initiatives in regional areas has seen South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula flourish with award-winning programs delivered to drive a skilled workforce and entice more workers into the area.

The following blog will look into current workforce development plans and strategies for port areas across Australia.

Port Lincoln, SA

Port Lincoln is a thriving tourist destination off the Spencer Gulf in South Australia.  Its growing population and innovative local leadership has seen economic growth and newly created jobs.

Situated on the Eyre Peninsula, the area has been the subject of intense focus on workforce development to enhance regional development, retain talent and promote the peninsula as a top area within the state for employment and economic stimulation.  Labourers, technicians and trades workers make up over 30% of Port Lincoln’s occupations.

The Eyre Peninsula has been one of four areas chosen across Australia to implement the AgriFood National Regional Initiative – an award-winning initiative that aims to empower industry, community and local government leaders to work together, finding solutions to enhance skills and workforce development attraction and retention in regional Australia.

According to advisory group member and Eyre Peninsula Government Association Executive Officer Tony Irvine, the initiative has addressed skills gaps in the region and focuses on building the professional capacity of employers.

Continual professional workforce development brokerage will ensure that government targets continue to be met, funding is being allocated with the highest efficiency and return on investment is surpassed.

Port Macquarie, NSW

Port Macquarie is one of the fastest growing areas in NSW, and home to a population of just over 75,000.  Its growth rate requires sound infrastructure in place to accommodate and stimulate more jobs and services in the area.

It has a significant day-tripper market, with the area seeing over 200,000 day visitors each year.

The council is looking for assistance in developing an overarching economic development action plan for Port Macquarie, with a focus on “partnering for success”.  This means collaborating and cooperating with key stakeholders, such as businesses, state government and the community to maximise economic return.

A focused workforce development plan will enable the area’s economic development strategy and accelerate economic outcomes.

Port Hedland, WA

Port Hedland is the second largest town in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, with a population of approximately 17,000 and a growth rate of 5.5%.

The town’s vision is to create “a nationally significant, friendly city where people are proud to call home”.

The culturally diverse town (home to over 70 nationalities and ethnicities) is the world’s largest bulk tonnage export port, exporting 372.3 million tonnes per annum, an increase of 29% from last year’s throughput.  Mining and Construction are the dominant jobs in Port Hedland, with mining jobs doubling in availability between 2006 and 2011.

Port Hedland has great accessibility to planning and development services, and has a sound economic plan in place.  However, an opportunity exists to integrate entrepreneurial strategies into a workforce plan for the region to increase innovation and address unemployment rates (6%).

Between 2012 and 2014, unemployment significantly increased from 2 to 6%.  Workforce planning and fresh new development strategies could improve this statistic.

Port Phillip, VIC

Port Phillip’s advantageous location – being situated only 5km from Melbourne’s central business district means the area is easily accessible by public transport and makes it ideal for residencies of local CBD workers.

Known for its ‘sophistication’ and liveable surroundings, it is home to many business owners – who express that the community and culture are a selling point for living and doing business in the port.

With a population of just over 100,000 people, 86,000 available jobs, and over 18,000 businesses, the area provides high productivity and economic output.

According to the Port Phillip Business Hub, the largest employment sector is the professional, scientific and technical services industry, with the financial and insurance services industry representing the greatest share of Gross Value Added ($2.1 million) and output ($3 million).

Due to its high volume of employees, business activity and economic output, workforce development plans that focus on lifting the overall productivity of the area to a higher standard can be achieved to stimulate the area even more.

This can be done through developing high performance programs to train and mentor talented employees, cross-pollinate industries to stimulate innovation and creativity, and encourage more business to business dealings within the area as opposed to going elsewhere.

Although South Australia’s ports are experiencing high government support, and Port Phillip is delivering high economic productivity, workforce development can assist in lifting the national standard to soaring heights though connecting, educating and bridging gaps in port areas.

If your business is located in a port area of Australia or internationally, Workforce BluePrint has an experienced team that can tailor a workforce solution to you.  Contact Wendy Perry, Head Workforce Planner by emailing

May 2015.

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