Populate or Perish; the fight for skilled staff.

26 June 2023

Populate or Perish; the fight for skilled staff.

“Will people pick and stick with the regional dream over the metropolitan lifestyle?”

Author: Michael Brennan

Regional Queensland is having its own sliding doors moment. Through one door, is economic prosperity. Through another door, is almost certain stagnation.

In the latest edition of the Offermans’ Northern Exposure economic snapshot, the spotlight is turned on the issue of regional population, the need to lock in population growth and to drive economic prosperity via other means. Download your copy here.

The last five years of constant election cycles has seen project after project announced or renounced subject to the government of the day. Many in the community have announcement fatigue and just want to see projects commence. Historically, the major restrictive element of public projects has been financial and the willingness of governments to spend funds. In today’s environment though, the most critical resource for projects is the availability of skilled staff.

At the recent Australian Financial Review’s ESG Summit, the dire lack of qualified linesmen was highlighted as a project risk for the race to net zero. Frank Tudor, Managing Director of energy asset owner Jemena, told the summit “We know that there’s about 1400 transmission workers in the country … we probably need 10 times that number to be able to deliver on 10,000 plus kilometers of interconnection that we need”.

Tudor went on to add “this is a decadal problem; we need four years for an apprenticeship, four years for experience to be gained before you become competent.”

Where this lack of transmission workers leaves the CopperString project is anyone’s guess.

Regional Queensland is fighting to attract and retain skilled staff so that the multitude of projects that have been announced can be commenced and completed. COVID and the fear of density living appears to have driven a migration to the regions. With a rethink on lockdowns into the future, will people pick and stick with the regional dream over the metropolitan lifestyle?

The Offermans’ Northern Exposure update has provided a snapshot on the major economic issues experienced in Regional Queensland since 2009.  Follow this link to sign up and make sure you don’t miss out on the only update that matters. Thanks to Matt Kelly and his team at Regional Economic Advisory for the insight and analysis of recent population data.