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.

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

VERTO CEO, Ron Maxwell, said this research has been undertaken 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 and shortages, 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 high demand by regional employers,” Mr Maxwell said.

By surveying more than 400 regional VERTO client businesses, the report Training for your future: filling the jobs in regional NSW, identified 1,096 job vacancies across regional NSW in the first quarter of 2022, with an average of 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 jobs market in regional NSW.

Mr Maxwell said the research revealed that businesses are looking for employees with 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 (VET)  institutions as opposed to universities,” he said.

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

As well as labour shortages, the research highlights the recruitment challenges faced for businesses in regional NSW. Around 70 per cent of businesses surveyed identified difficulty in filling positions in the first quarter of 2022 and two thirds of them see this pattern continuing over the next 12 months.

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 keys to ensuring the NSW regional workforce is ‘fit-for-purpose’ in the future.”

VERTO CEO Ron Maxwell is a panellist at the RAI National Summit – Rebalancing the Nation. For more information, please go to the RAI website www.regionalaustralia.org.au.

Click here to download the report Training for your future: filling the jobs in regional NSW: https://www.verto.org.au/news/training-for-your-future-filling-the-jobs-in-regional-nsw