Housing and childcare squeeze behind bush worker gap

While the job market booms in country Australia, workers are hard to find amid chronic shortages of housing and childcare.

The Regional Australia Institute think tank warns the bush is falling further behind as supply of workers, particularly medical professionals and carers, does not keep up with a surge in demand.

“Without intervention, the gap potentially will widen,” the institute’s new report Regional Jobs 2022: The Big Skills Challenge said.

Chief executive Liz Ritchie will launch the report during an address at the National Press Club in Canberra on Wednesday afternoon, calling for policy shifts to make the regions more liveable and attract more workers.

“This report highlights the growth opportunity being presented to regional Australia and the importance of accelerating support to enable regional Australia to play a bigger role in national prosperity,” Ms Ritchie said.

The report showed regional job vacancies in December grew at three times the metropolitan rate and the number of jobs advertised in the country grew by 97 per cent compared to five years ago.

The jobs in highest demand were medical professionals, nurses, clerks, call centre staff, receptionists, carers and auto and engineering trade workers.

Demand for arts, media and creative workers was also growing, the report showed.

Some chronic skills gaps were emerging including in outback Queensland, where 2022 job vacancies were 25 per cent higher year-on-year while unemployment was over 10 per cent.

The institute said it was critical to build educational pathways to fill gaps in the regions, as many in-demand roles required a minimum Certificate III qualification.

“Each region has its own story to tell and the people they need to ensure it can accommodate the demand in vacancies,” Ms Ritchie said.


Stephanie Gardiner
(Australian Associated Press)



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