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More roles than just ‘professionals’ in regional NSW

September 13 2022

Regional NSW employers are experiencing a critical shortage of workers, according to a new report released today looking at job vacancies and the recruitment challenges faced by businesses in regional NSW.

The research, conducted by the Regional Australia Institute (RAI), in partnership with VERTO, highlights the demand in regional NSW for technicians and trades, machinery operators and labourers, hospitality workers and retail workers.

VERTO CEO, Ron Maxwell, said this research has been designed to fill a gap in our understanding of regional labour markets.

“Regional employers are experiencing record-breaking demand for staff, with job vacancies over the last 12 months higher than that experienced during the mining boom,” he said.

“We look to the National Skills Commission and the Internet Vacancies Index (IVI) for our data on jobs and skills, but our research tells us that the IVI data does not show the full picture of labour demand, both in skilled and low skilled roles in regional NSW.

“This report looks at what’s happening on the ground in regional NSW and what jobs and skills are in demand by regional employers,” Mr Maxwell said.

By surveying more than 400 VERTO client businesses, the report, Training for your future: filling the jobs in regional NSW, identified 1,096 job vacancies across regional NSW, with 3.5 vacancies per business surveyed.

The proportion of regional vacancies in NSW by industry reported in-demand roles in manufacturing (24 per cent), accommodation and food services (16 per cent), construction (11 per cent), retail trade (10 per cent).

And more than 30 per cent of these vacancies are for new roles in these businesses, indicating an expanding job market in regional NSW.

Mr Maxwell said the research revealed that businesses are looking for more general skills and qualifications such as computer literacy, driver’s licence, first-aid, basic literacy and numeracy, white cards and responsible service of gambling and alcohol.

“The majority of skills and qualifications sought by surveyed businesses are those that could be undertaken through vocational education and training institutions (VET) as opposed to universities,” he said.

“These findings do not dismiss the need in the regions for higher education options for students, however, there is a need for a diverse scope of learning options for regional students and businesses.”

As well as labour market gaps, the research highlights the recruitment challenges faced for businesses in regional NSW. Around 70 per cent of businesses surveyed identified difficulty in filling positions and two thirds of them see this pattern continuing over the next 12 months.

This has led some businesses to change the way they recruit, moving to advertising on social media to broaden their recruitment net outside their region, without incurring costs for placing advertisements on online job sites.

RAI CEO Liz Ritchie said the findings of this report present both a significant opportunity and a challenge for regional NSW.

“Regional employers across the country have told the RAI that finding staff to fill current and future roles is one of the biggest challenges facing growth in their business,” Ms Ritchie said.

“At the RAI, we know shifting the dial on population movement to the regions and ‘growing from within’ are key to ensuring the NSW regional workforce is ‘fit-for-purpose’ in the future.”

To view the latest report, Training for your future: filling the jobs in regional NSW, click here:

VERTO CEO Ron Maxwell is a panellist at today’s RAI National Summit – Rebalancing the Nation. For more information, please go to the RAI website

For media enquiries contact:

Kate Manion
Ph. 0477 374 089
E: [email protected]

Regional Australia Institute
Amanda Barwick
Ph: 0429142232
E: [email protected]