A new locally-lead taskforce to drive building a workforce for the future in the Murray-Mallee will be established early next year, as a result of a unique forum in the region this week.
On Monday, more than 120 people gathered in Euston in south-western New South Wales for the Cross-Border Future Industry Workforce Forum, which was convened to address the tri-state area’s labour shortages.
Spanning 14 local government areas across NSW, Victoria and South Australia, the region is on the cusp of significant large-scale new and expanded projects across the critical minerals, renewable energy, and irrigated horticulture industries.
The forum brought together industry; skills and training sector representatives; and local, state and federal government, to begin the development of a Cross Border Future Industry Workforce Roadmap to guide a localised and skilled workforce to meet the needs of these sectors. The roadmap’s continued development and ultimate application will be led by a 16-member taskforce.
Balranald Shire Council General Manager, Craig Bennett, who was part of the forum’s organising committee, said the Cross-Border Future Workforce Taskforce would meet for the first time in February 2024
“The forum was a unique opportunity for tri-state collaboration, empowering local leaders to build on the work at the forum in developing a roadmap to ensure the development of the region is lead from within,” Mr Bennett said.
“Participants identified opportunities including better linkages between industries and local high schools; more flexible work arrangements, in particular to assist women in joining the workforce; harmonisation of trade licensing, incentives for drive-in, drive-out workers to work locally; better promotion of the cross-border region as a great place to work and live; a shift from short term problem solving to long term skills and job planning; and better collaboration between industries, training and skills providers and community – which the new taskforce aims to deliver on.”
Mr Bennett said inland Australia had long been a key contributor to the nation’s economy, and that would only continue in the transition to net zero.
“There is an immense amount of potential in the Murray-Mallee, but to realise that, we need to ensure we have right workforce available. Just this week Infrastructure Australia’s Infrastructure Market Capacity Report found the nation’s infrastructure workforce would need to grow by 127% to meet demand, the third year it’s done so,” Mr Bennett said.
“It also called out the NSW Murray as one of the nation’s top regional hotspots, with extraordinary growth expected over the coming years.”
The forum was hosted in partnership by the NSW Government, Victoria State Government, Regional Development Australia Murray, Regional Mallee Partnerships, Balranald Shire Council, Mildura Rural City Council, Robinvale Euston Workforce Network, and the Regional Australia Institute.
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