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Acute skills shortage ’throttling’ the region’s businesses growth

“More than 100 employers from throughout NSW Northern Inland participated in the comprehensive survey over the past 12 months."

Regional Development Australia Northern Inland (RDANI) Executive Director Nathan Axelsson, Finance and Project Officer Rebecca Wright and Senior Project Officer David Thompson with the RDANI ‘Skills for the Future’ Report.

Businesses of all kinds in Narrabri shire have long been challenged by a shortage of skilled personnel.

Now, Regional Development Australia Northern Inland (RDANI) has released the findings of its investigation into the skills shortages and other labour challenges in the region.

“The data now supports what has long been suspected - Northern Inland business growth is being throttled by the difficulty in finding and retaining skilled and experienced employees across many industries” said RDANI chair Russell Stewart.

“More than 100 employers from throughout NSW Northern Inland participated in the comprehensive survey over the past 12 months.

“Results have been collated, conclusions drawn and they are presented in the RDANI ‘Skills for the Future’ report, an important resource for working to support the economic development of the region,” Mr Stewart said.

“We now have the evidence-base to better target our efforts to address local employers who struggle with labour challenges,” Mr. Stewart said.

“Through local knowledge, our committee and staff had a good understanding of our region’s skill shortages and business growth barriers but now we have facts and figures to underpin the work of Regional Development Australia Northern Inland.”

“Over 80 percent of businesses surveyed reported difficulties in filling job vacancies, while 75 percent said that industry experience is more valued than qualifications, indicating how retention of staff is as critical a challenge as recruitment,” he said.

“In undertaking this survey, our message to businesses was ‘help us to help you’ and we were delighted to hear back from so many different businesses, large and small,” Mr. Stewart said.

From Narrabri to Moree, Armidale, Willow Tree to Tenterfield, the Northern Inland region is dependent on agriculture as its predominant economic driver and has seen unemployment figures consistently higher than the NSW average over the past six years.