Member for Upper Hunter George Souris launched the Upper Hunter Workforce Plan in Singleton earlier this week; a collaboration between six Upper Hunter councils.
The five-year Upper Hunter Workforce Plan was a key initiative of the 2011 Upper Hunter Economic Diversification Report and the NSW 2021: Hunter Regional Action Plan. The diversification report examined the future of the region and emerging business and employment opportunities over the next 20-25 years.
The Workforce Plan focused on workforce supply and demand over the next 10 years, taking into consideration the high and volatile demand for workers and skills, mainly due to the energy and resources sectors, and the longer term workforce implications of an ageing population.
Singleton Mayor John Martin says the plan recognised that the Upper Hunter is heavily reliant on industries with trades and skills, particularly engineering, automotive, electro technology and construction.
“The plan identified several issues affecting our region including an increase in the number of residents commuting to jobs in adjacent council areas; limited jobs growth and a narrow range of job opportunities in the non-mining council areas; and an ageing workforce,” he said.
“We also have issues regarding workforce development that need to be addressed including improving regional access to higher education; further development of vocational education and training; a need for improved flexibility in industry training; and encouraging more training activity in small and medium sized businesses.”
“The six councils, in partnership with a number of stakeholders from government and industry, now have 16 priorities to action in order to start meeting these challenges and address some of these issues.”
The Upper Hunter Workforce Plan priorities are:
- Establish an Upper Hunter Workforce Planning Group.
- Establish a position of Upper Hunter Workforce Development Coordinator to initiate workforce projects.
- Create industry taskforces in sectors experiencing skill shortages (eg. aged care, children’s services, agribusiness, tourism) and initiate industry skills projects.
- Implement initiatives to broaden the workforce – covering mature workers and unemployed workers.
- Attract a university to deliver courses in the Muswellbrook/Singleton area.
- Provide support to Opportunity Hub Upper Hunter program.
- Maintain and expand programs of specialist skills centres in the region.
- Continue development of Muswellbrook as mining industry skills hub.
- Support continuation and extension of the ME Program.
- Provide support for equine industry skills initiatives.
- Provide support to small and medium sized businesses for workforce planning, productivity improvement and skills development.
- Secure agreement to an annual mining industry survey.
- Encourage more industry involvement in industry workforce and skills programs through engagement with local chambers and industry associations.
- Review age structure of major industries in the region.
- Develop an initial regional labour market report.
- Ensure workforce issues covered in regional and local plans and strategies.
The Upper Hunter Workforce Plan is the result of collaboration between Singleton Council, Upper Hunter Shire Council, Muswellbrook Shire Council, Dungog Shire Council, Gloucester Shire Council, Great Lakes Council and the Australian and NSW governments.
The Upper Hunter Workforce Plan can be downloaded here.
Image | Upper Hunter Shire Mayor Michael Johnsen, Singleton Council General Manager Lindy Hyam, Singleton Mayor John Martin, Member for Upper Hunter George Souris and strategy consultant Michael Connell of Michael Connell & Associates.