A collaborative partnership of Sunshine Coast and Moreton Bay regional development organisations is spearheading a workforce research initiative to identify the region’s supply of skills and labour to meet future demands of key infrastructure projects and the resource sector boom.
The partnership is led by Regional Development Australia (RDA) Sunshine Coast, RDA Moreton Bay, the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR), Moreton Bay Regional Council and Sunshine Coast Council, with support from Sunshine Coast Business Council, Sunshine Coast TAFE and the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC).
The steering committee has appointed Deloitte Access Economics to undertake a detailed overview of the region’s current workforce and its projected changes over the next 20 years.
RDA Sunshine Coast Chair Prof Max Standage said the project would identify and analyse the gaps and overlaps in the supply of skills and labour across the Sunshine Coast and Moreton Bay regions.
“There is currently no comprehensive strategic workforce development plan to quantify employment opportunities and skills requirements for our region’s major infrastructure projects, which are anticipated to create more than 20,000 jobs over the next five years,” he said.
“To help maximise these opportunities, Deloitte Access Economics will conduct research into the region’s labour and skills needs and provide a report that will form the basis of a regional workforce development strategy and action plan.”
Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson said he strongly supported the direction of the research.
“We are on the cusp of unprecedented public and private sector investment in this region and it is absolutely essential that we have a good understanding of the workforce and skills requirements that will be needed so that we obtain the full advantage from this opportunity”, he said.
“It is also important that while we seek to attract new types of industry to the Sunshine Coast, we invest in and support our education and training institutions to ensure we have the appropriately skilled people and workforce pipeline to support industry investment.”
Moreton Bay Regional Council Mayor, Allan Sutherland, said human resources were the most important asset of any business.
“Without happy, skilled and committed staff, any business will struggle to survive – it’s as simple as that,” Mayor Sutherland said.
“It’s an exciting time to be in the Moreton Bay Region with the game-changing NBN rollout beginning within months along with the delivery of the $1.15 billion region-building Moreton Bay Rail Link to name just two key infrastructure projects.
“Both are expected to generate a new wave of investment in one Australia’s fastest growing regions and that’s what makes this labour force stocktake so important.”
DEEWR’s Local Employment Coordinator Mr Kris McCue said the workforce research would be used to develop education, training, labour market assistance and skills development programs to meet the needs of major projects across both regions.
The major infrastructure projects include construction of the Sunshine Coast Private Hospital, Sunshine Coast University Hospital, Kawana and Sippy Downs shopping centres, North Harbour (North East Business Park), and development of Caloundra South, Caboolture West and North Lakes, which will also include a private hospital.
“These are transformational projects, providing a unique opportunity for local companies to maximise business opportunities over the next five years. They also provide an opportunity for local people to access jobs associated with these projects,” said Mr McCue.
Other projects include upgrade of the Bruce Highway, development and construction of the Maroochydore Town Centre, construction of the Moreton Bay Rail Link, and proposed Sunshine Coast Airport extension.
RDA Moreton Bay Chair Mr Neil Hoddinett said the rollout of high-speed broadband digital infrastructure would generate additional employment opportunities, with the phased construction scheduled to start in the next 12 months.
“These major projects all have the potential to make a substantial positive impact on our regional economies and drive diversification of local industries. It is essential that the economic and employment impact of these transformational projects is captured for the long term sustainability of the Moreton Bay region and the Sunshine Coast.”
Mr McCue said the workforce research project would also be used to understand the region’s role in supporting the mining regions and help determine:
• The skills and employment pathways leading to jobs in the resources sector;
• What the job opportunities are and where they are located;
• The existing resources sector workforce based in the region; and
• The extent of existing supply chain businesses providing goods and services to the sector.
Prof Standage said the Sunshine Coast and Moreton Bay labour markets would continue to be affected by competing demand and higher wages offered by the resources sector which attracted skilled people to mining regions.
“Companies involved in the construction phases of major projects may find it difficult to access the local skilled labour required and may need to import skilled labour from within Australia and overseas.”
A steering committee comprising RDA Sunshine Coast, RDA Moreton Bay, Sunshine Coast Council, Moreton Bay Regional Council and the DEEWR Local Employment Coordinator and Sunshine Coast TAFE are overseeing this project.
The project is due to be completed in early 2013.
The workforce research project is also being used to understand the region’s role in supporting the mining regions and help determine:
- The skills and employment pathways leading to jobs in the resources sector;
- What the job opportunities are and where they are located;
- The existing resources sector workforce based in the region; and
- The extent of existing supply chain businesses providing goods and services to the sector.