For the recovery of the North Coast region’s economy to begin and for businesses to start employing workers, strategic planning and collaboration at all levels must occur suggests a plan released last week.
Regional Development Australia Mid North Coast (RDAMNC) and Northern Rivers (RDANR), launched their North Coast NSW Employment Strategy and Action Plan simultaneously in Bellingen and Lismore.
The launch is the culmination of collaborative efforts between the organisations and the plan aims to be a catalyst for change and the beginnings of a new approach to solving regional employment issues.
Included in the strategy is the need to address the duplication of initiatives setup to deal with regional unemployment and the lack of consistent funding to support programmes.
The plan proposes a structured approach of how to address unemployment in the North Coast Region which includes the forming of a regional board and working groups to implement key strategies and actions.
The strategy was launched by the federal members of parliament for each region, the Hon Kevin Hogan, MP member for Page and Mr Pat Conaghan member for Cowper (pictured).
In a sign of the times, the launch was conducted both online and in person.
“The North Coast Employment Strategy and Action Plan is a first for the North Coast. It is an important guiding strategy that will help the region’s businesses and jobseekers navigate an uncertain future,” said Kevin Hogan, MP.
“This document also contains a range of actions which I am keen to see are implemented in the short term. RDAs Northern Rivers and Mid North Coast can be commended for collaborating and bringing the strengths of both regions together to face these challenges,” he said.
Currently the North Coast has a $62.0 Bn economy with over 200,000 jobs.
In the Northern Rivers, prior to COVID-19 and the introduction of social lockdown measures to manage the pandemic, the total employment across all local industry sectors was estimated at 107,000.
For May 2020, REMPLAN estimated total employment in the Northern Rivers at 92,000, a loss of around 15,000 to the workforce.
These statistics point towards the need for a regional plan to prepare for recovery that will occur post crisis and the organisations feel that the recommendations in the strategy will help the North Coast region get on the front foot.
“The strategy encourages new thinking and place-based innovative solutions rather than programmes that are air dropped into a region with a one size fits all approach, that has occurred in the past.” Said Tim Williamson, Director of Regional Development, RDA -Northern Rivers.
The Regional Australia Institute’s Kim Houghton, Chief Economist from The Regional Australia Institute also contributed to the action plan, providing commentary and data that helped shape the final document.
RDA Northern Rivers and RDA Mid North Coast have also combined to develop an online solution called My Future Workforce which addresses the issue of connecting with local employers. The platform is to be officially launched in August and will help address many of the issues raised in the North Coast Workforce Strategy and Action Plan.
North Coast NSW Employment Strategy and Action Plan: can be downloaded via https://www.rdanorthernrivers.org.au/download/north-coast-nsw-employment-strategy-and-action-plan/