Western Sydney: Fast-tracking workforce development & SME growth

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Western Sydney has one of the fastest growing economies in Australia – Australia’s third largest economic region behind Sydney and Melbourne.  Its annual gross regional product reaching about $97 billion, and more than $12 billion in state and regionally significant projects, were approved in the area in 2012-13.

With a vision to “enhance Western Sydney as a competitive economic region,” the area is a growing hub for both economic and employment development.

Fast-tracking economic growth

The Australian Government is delivering on its plan to build a stronger and more prosperous Western Sydney by investing $2.9 billion over ten years in major infrastructure upgrades that will transform the region’s economy.

The Western Sydney Infrastructure Plan involves major road and transport linkages that will capitalise on the economic gains from developing an airport at Badgerys Creek whilst boosting the local economy and liveability of Western Sydney, making it an even greater place to live and do business.

The plan details the following projects:

  • The Northern Road in four stages to a minimum of four lanes between Narellan and Jamison Road, South Penrith, including a grade separated interchange at Bringelly Road
  • Building a new M12 motorway to a western Sydney airport site between the M7 Motorway, Cecil Hills and The Northern Road, Luddenham
  • Upgrading Bringelly Road to a minimum of four lanes between the Northern Road and Camden Valley Way. Construction started in January 2015
  • Building the Werrington Arterial Road by upgrading Kent Road and Gipps Street to four lanes between the Great Western Highway and at the M4 Motorway, including two new east-facing ramps on the M4 Motorway. Construction started March 2015
  • Upgrading the intersection of Ross Street and the Great Western Highway, Glenbrook

This investment will relieve pressure on existing infrastructure and unlock the economic capacity of the region by easing costly congestion, slashing travel times and creating thousands of local jobs.

Employment in Western Sydney

With years of planning and investment in the region starting to come to fruition through new developments springing up, the people of Sydney are beginning to migrate west, as the state and local government pour resources into making the area a viable alternative for residential and commercial development in Sydney.  This growth, of course, creates new jobs.

As it stands, the four largest industry employers in Western Sydney are health care & social assistance, manufacturing, retail trade, and construction – making up almost one third of their total NSW workforce located in Western Sydney.

The NSW Business Chamber believes in Western Sydney, with a focus on the development of the region, particularly in generating jobs.  The second airport alone will provide more than 57,000 jobs over the next 30 years – and 21, 200 jobs for the longer term.

The chamber is working towards a number of initiatives, including an economic and jobs plan, an advanced manufacturing cluster, developing a medical research/technologies precinct, and a justice precinct plus light rail system for Parramatta’s CBD.

In 2011, there were a total of 121,700 businesses operating in Western Sydney – making up 96.6% of all businesses.  The largest proportions were in construction (21.5%), transport, postal and warehousing (11.5%) and professional, scientific and technical services (9.3%).

The Commonwealth Government has two economic programs of particular relevance to the Western Sydney economy.

First, two of twenty priority employment areas together cover all of Western Sydney.  Local Employment Coordinators, appointed for each area, working with relevant stakeholders in developing and implementing local solutions to labour market issues.

The second relevant program is Regional Development Australia (RDA).  The RDA Sydney committee has two initiatives of particular relevance for the Western Sydney economy: a Regional Plan for Sydney, released in 2011; and an Employment Lands Policy Position, released in August 2012.

These plans are aimed at boosting the number of jobs in Western Sydney by 384,000 between 2006 and 2036 – an increase of 53%.

SME businesses – the engine room behind this growth

Western Sydney’s Small Medium Enterprises are also the most positive in respect of their employment intentions.  Unlike the Greater Western Sydney (GWS) region, which has 0.0% anticipated growth for full time employment, or Large Businesses which anticipate a reduction by 1.7% in full time employment, SMEs intend to grow their full time workforce by 2.3%.

The positive employment intention of SME Businesses is consistent with their revenue and profit target expectations, and again indicates their strength in the Western Sydney region.

The Director of Engagement at the UWS School of Business, Warren Day, says the findings confirm that Greater Western Sydney is driven by the SME sector.

“A focused strategy to support SME Businesses with local procurement and training will be the most effective way to drive the development of the Western Sydney economy,” Mr Day said.

Supporting growth through workforce development

According to Michael Sugg, CEO of Western Sydney Business Connection, local procurement combined with employee skills development will be an effective way to drive growth and development of the Western Sydney economy.

Workforce development strategies can help support skills the business owners will need in this fast growing region.

If you would like to know more about workforce development strategies for your industry or region, please contact Wendy Perry via wendy@wb.switchstartscale.com.au.

August 2015

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