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Australia’s Regional Jobs Revolution – Change Is on the Way

April 4 2019

The face of regional jobs across the country is changing rapidly and a plan to meet demand is needed now – according to the Regional Australia Institute (RAI).

For the first time, government and regional communities have been given a glimpse of the opportunities and challenges facing the regional workforce, with the release of the RAI’s Future of Regional Jobs Report launched in Canberra today by Deputy Prime Minister, the Hon. Michael McCormack.

“What this report shows is the future is extremely bright for job opportunities for regional workers – and a career in the country has never looked so good – but we need to make some changes,” Dr Houghton said.

“We know there are more than 40,000 jobs to fill across regional Australia right now and that figure is set to grow as the workforce landscape changes.

“Regional Australia needs different skills, the types of jobs will change and the role of education will be more critical than ever before,” Dr Houghton said.

RAI research shows that the impact of the next round of digital automation will vary across regions – however ‘high-tech’, ‘high-touch’, and ‘high-care’ roles will be at the forefront.

In releasing The Future of Regional Jobs, the RAI has set out a four-point JOBS plan to help regions make the most of their changing workforce.

  1. Jump in early to plan ahead to understand your local workforce;
  2. Offer an attractive destination by improving regional community infrastructure, services and amenities;
  3. Build the capacity of your Regional Learning System to help ‘growth from within’; and
  4. Support long-term migrant settlement to help meet job demand.

Automation, the dynamics of regional labour markets, matching local skills with emerging job opportunities and competition between regions for the same workers are all factors regional leaders and governments must look at now to ensure communities can grow.

“People with skills in the in-demand occupations will have plenty of options of where to work. It will be up to regional towns and cities to improve their liveability, so they can present as a great lifestyle option,” Dr Houghton said.

“One of the biggest changes to come is the shift away from primary and secondary industries to service industries – such as the healthcare and social assistance sector,” Dr Houghton said.

“By 2023, Federal Government projections are that regional Australia will need to find more than 85,000 more workers for this industry, and another 28,000 in education. This demand will be felt in most markets,” Dr Houghton said.

With long lead times in education for professionals, it’s critical that action starts now to create the skills development pathways needed.

“Our work has shown that local responses can have a big impact. Community-led efforts to influence and improve local and regional labour markets and learning systems are working,” Dr Houghton said.

“Many regions are looking to grow their own future workforces, and the quality of Regional Learning Systems will determine how well regional residents are able to tap into current and future jobs opportunities. The RAI hopes that in releasing this report Commonwealth, State and Territory governments will now mobilise the resources needed,” Dr Houghton concluded.

The Future of Jobs was a major theme of the RAI’s Intergovernmental Shared Inquiry Program in 2018 and provides the foundation for ongoing work in 2019.
To obtain a copy of the RAI’s latest work – The Future of Regional Jobs – click here, or copies are available at the Regions Rising National Summit being held in Canberra today.