Increased competition, skills shortages and constantly changing client needs are some of the challenges constraining the Hunter’s important Professional Services sector, according to research released by the Hunter Research Foundation (HRF) yesterday.
HRF CEO, Dr Brent Jenkins, said the sector was critical to the Hunter’s economic future as it continues to navigate from a manufacturing base to a more diversified industry base.
“The HRF continues to seek insight into boosting the creation of high-value jobs that will drive our economic success. In our latest regional research project, HRF have consulted representatives from the Hunter’s professional services sector to identify opportunities for the future and potential enabling strategies,” Brent said.
The professional services sector is a growing employer across NSW and Australia. However, the Hunter has not experienced the same level of growth as elsewhere, with only one-in-eleven Hunter workers employed in the sector compared to one-in-seven nationally. This employment share has fallen across the Hunter since 2011, while rising in the State and nation.
HRF will release the results of its two-stage Future of Hunter Professional Services research project, which explored the challenges in-depth and recommends possible enabling strategies for Hunter firms increasing their global competitiveness.
These include: investing in skills, education and training; strengthening domestic and international professional networks; and investing in technology.
The Future of Hunter Professional Services project was supported by sponsorship from organisations operating locally, including infrastructure services firm AECOM.
Hunter Area Manager Ian Richardson said AECOM had supported the HRF project to contribute to strengthening the sector in the region.
“We have certainly experienced some of the challenges for the Hunter identified in the report within our own business, despite benefiting from being part of a global network,” Ian said.
“We felt it important to take part in the research and support Stage 2, which provides deeper insight into those challenges, Regional collaboration is one of the key opportunities emerging for future growth and we will endeavour to act on HRF’s recommendations to build a stronger economy for the Hunter into the future.”
Click here to view the overview of the findings.