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Regional Australia Council meets in Canberra to discuss jobs and energy transition

26 May 2023

The Regional Australia Council, a cohort of Australia’s largest private sector employers, met at Parliament House Canberra this week with regional jobs and the nation’s energy transition top of the agenda.

Convened by the Regional Australia Institute (RAI), the meeting of the Council coincided with the launch of the RAI’s Regional Jobs Report 2022 – The Big Skills Challenge and RAI CEO Liz Ritchie’s address to the National Press Club on Wednesday.

The Big Skills Challenge report found regional job advertisements grew three times faster than in metropolitan Australia at the end of 2022, with demand highest for doctors and nurses; aged care and child care workers; receptionists and sales assistants.

Regional Australia Council members include Aurizon, Australia Post, Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, Commonwealth Bank, Domain, Elders, Essential Energy, KPMG, nbn co, Nutrien Ag Solutions, NRMA, Optus, Transgrid, Telstra and Woolworths Group.

Over two-days the Council was briefed by representatives leading the Government’s jobs and skills reforms and the nation’s energy transition task.

Newly appointed Jobs and Skills Australia Chair Professor Peter Dawkins met with the Council to discuss the Federal Government’s plan for jobs.

“Regional Council members represent some of the largest employers in regional Australia. Each member is being challenged by recruitment difficulty and the flow on effect to their business and industry,” Liz Ritchie said.

“Professor Dawkins outlined the remit and priorities of JSA and how it would speak to regional Australia’s critical worker deficit. Importantly, Council members, from a diverse range of industries spanning retail to energy, had the chance to share with Professor Dawkins the jobs and skills needs of their individuals’ organisations.”

Extending the focus on jobs and skills, Skills and Training Deputy Secretary Anna Faithfull and First Assistant Secretary, National Skills Agreement, Vicki Wilkinson, explained the Government’s reforms to the Vocational Education Sector.

“We welcome the plan to, via the National Skills Agreement, to establish National Centres of Excellence linking TAFEs, universities and industry; the focus on increasing apprenticeship completion and on prioritising training in the care sector.” Ms Ritchie said.

Skilled migration is a critical part of addressing regional Australia’s workforce deficit and the Council valued an update from Deputy Chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Migration and Member for Mallee, Dr Anne Webster.

Only two weeks, after it was announced the Council, was also briefed on the role of the National Net Zero Authority by Assistant Minister for Climate Change and Energy, Senator Jenny McAllister and First Assistant Secretary, Net Zero Economy Taskforce, Ms Kerren Crosthwaite.

“The heart of the nation’s renewable energy future is in our regions. The transition offers significant opportunities but also challenges for some regional communities,” Ms Ritchie said.

“It was important to hear from both Minister McAllister and Ms Crosthwaite on how communities would be consulted and their needs met through the Authority. It was hugely significant for the Council to be given such insights on the Authority, so early in its development.”

The Regional Australia Council co-designed and now co-own the RAI’s 10-year plan for regional Australia: the Regionalisation Ambition 2032 – A Framework to Rebalance the Nation. Council members have pledged to take action in their own organisations towards targets including: reducing regional recruitment difficulty; increasing the region’s proportion of skilled workers and ensuring regional Australia is trending towards net zero emissions by 2050.

The Regional Australia Council next meets in August 2023.

For media enquiries contact:

Regional Australia Institute 
Laureta Wallace
Ph: 0408 448 250
E: [email protected]