Skills short­fall on hori­zon

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - TONY RAGGATT

FEARS of a loom­ing skills short­age in Townsville have been sup­ported by anal­y­sis show­ing projects un­der way or start­ing within the next 18 months will cre­ate more than 4700 jobs.

Econ­o­mist Colin Dwyer has pro­vided the anal­y­sis which shows if ad­di­tional “po­ten­tial” projects such as Adani’s Carmichael mine and Bos­ton En­ergy and In­no­va­tion’s bat­tery fac­tory pro­ceed, a fur­ther 4800 jobs will be cre­ated.

Mr Dwyer said he didn’t think the re­gion was pre­pared for such a rapid turn­around from its cur­rent po­si­tion of high un­em­ploy­ment.

“We need to plan to re­vi­talise our city’s skills base,” he said

Townsville Cham­ber of Com­merce has pro­vided a sim­i­lar call to ac­tion and yes­ter­day board mem­ber Michael Ko­pit­tke crit­i­cised La­bor fed­eral MP Cathy O’Toole for telling Par­lia­ment this week the city needed more sup­port and had one of the high­est small busi­ness in­sol­vency rates in Aus­tralia. “We are past that. We don’t have time for po­lit­i­cal pointscor­ing. We are forg­ing ahead,” Mr Ko­pit­tke said.

Mr Ko­pit­tke said the city’s lead­ers needed to do their ut­most to work with the state and fed­eral gov­ern­ments to en­sure the smoothest tran­si­tion for busi­ness Townsville econ­omy.

“We re­ally have to work hard and get the busi­ness com­mu­nity on board so we can min­imise the is­sues and take ad­van­tage of all the op­por­tu­ni­ties,” Mr Ko­pit­tke said.

Mr Dwyer’s re­search had ident- and the ified 41 projects pro­vid­ing 9600 jobs. Of the projects, he said 27 were un­der way or com­mit­ted and set to start within 18 months. An­other 14 projects were listed as po­ten­tial with a start in the next two years.

Hu­man Cap­i­tal manag­ing di­rec­tor Clay­ton Cook said most of the 4700 jobs in the com­mit­ted projects would be in con­struc­tion, while jobs in po­ten­tial projects in­cluded min­ing, man­u­fac­tur­ing and re­tail.

“Al­though the un­em­ploy­ment rate for the re­gion is high we are al­ready see­ing in­creased ex­am­ples of skills short­ages in a range of oc­cu­pa­tions and in­dus­tries,” Mr Cook said.

“As more projects start, this is­sue will get worse and the lack of sup­ply of qual­ity skills will see pres­sure on wage growth and staff turnover.”

Ms O’Toole said she un­der­stood the need to ad­dress work­force is­sues but would not re­sile from telling fed­eral Par­lia­ment about the tough times in the city.

In her par­lia­men­tary speech, she crit­i­cised the Turn­bull Gov­ern­ment for pro­vid­ing no fund­ing for Townsville from its North­ern Aus­tralia In­fra­struc­ture Fa­cil­ity, the lack of ac­cess for Townsville for its water in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ment fund and claimed spend­ing on com­mit­ments to the Bruce High­way was not meet­ing what was promised.

GROW­ING CHAL­LENGE: The new Townsville sta­dium will cre­ate 750 jobs dur­ing con­struc­tion, part of a re­gional jobs boom which has sparked fears of a skills short­age.

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