For the recovery of the North Coast region’s economy to begin and for businesses to be able to start employing workers, strategic planning and collaboration at all levels must occur suggests a plan released today.
Regional Development Australia Mid North Coast (RDAMNC) and Northern Rivers (RDANR), launched their North Coast Workforce Strategy and Action Plan simultaneously in Bellingen and Lismore July 29th. (Above from left Mr Pat Conaghan, Member for Cowper, Ms Kerry Grace, CEO of RDAMNC and Mr John O’Neill Chair of RDAMNC).
The launch is the culmination of collaborative efforts between the organisations and the plan aims to be a catalyst for change and the beginnings of a new approach to solving regional employment issues.
Included in the strategy is the need to address the duplication of initiatives setup to deal with regional unemployment and the lack of consistent funding to support programmes.
The plan proposes a structured approach of how to address unemployment in the region and includes the forming of a regional board and working groups to implement key strategies and actions.
The strategy was launched by RDAMNC and RDANR today alongside federal members of parliament for each region, Mr Pat Conaghan, member for Cowper, and Hon Kevin Hogan, member for Page.
In a sign of the times the launch was conducted both online and in person.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr Conaghan said the Government had provided an unprecedented level of support for local businesses and employees and the Government’s focus now was on recovery and reform.
“The Government’s JobMaker Plan is built on enabling a business-led economic recovery,” Mr Conaghan said.
“JobMaker also involves billions of dollars of investment in improving people’s skills, supporting with a wage subsidy some 180,000 apprentices and bringing business and unions together nationally to create the industrial relations conditions to get people into work.”
“The North Coast NSW Employment Strategy and Action Plan launched today is a good, local initiative that I support as better collaboration will help to support growth and employment opportunities.”
Currently the North Coast has a $62.0 Bn economy with over 200,000 jobs.
In Mid North Coast, prior to COVID-19 and the introduction of social lockdown measures to manage the pandemic, the total employment across all local industry sectors was estimated at 95,430.
For May 2020, REMPLAN estimated total employment in the Mid North Coast at 81,709, a fall of 14.4% and in the Northern Rivers 15,000 jobs have been lost.
These statistics point towards the need for a regional plan to prepare for recovery that will occur post crisis and the organisations feel that the recommendations in the strategy will help the North Coast region get on the front foot.
“The employment system is broken, and it has been for a long time. This plan maps a way forward that will provide a better solution for all involved,” said Ms Kerry Grace, CEO of RDAMNC.
“No collective strategy to address employment opportunities currently exists and it needs to begin by connecting with employers.”
The strategy encourages new thinking and place-based innovative solutions rather than programmes that are air dropped into a region with a one size fits all approach, that has occurred in the past.
The Regional Australia Institute’s Kim Houghton, Chief Economist, contributed to the action plan, providing commentary and data that helped shape the final document.
RDAMNC are addressing the issue of connecting with local employers and have developed an employment solution called My Future Workforce. The platform, to be officially launched in August, will help address many of the issues raised in the North Coast Workforce Strategy and Action Plan.