How can we attract people to Tamworth?

What you need to know

More than 300 answers have been collected since we asked why people don’t want to move to Tamworth.

The question came up after reports of jobs advertised in the local area for flexible working hours and good pay were going months without a single application. It got us thinking. What could be going wrong? We know our town is great, but why isn’t the message getting through?

Little more than 24 hours later and hundreds had weighed in from around the region and beyond saying they would move to Tamworth for the right job. 

What the experts are saying

WITH many of Tamworth’s skilled workers migrating to the coast or metropolitan areas, the community is looking for ways to keep them here or fill the gaps they leave behind.

This comes in the wake of local businesses advertising  jobs for which they have received no applicants.

Joblink Plus spokeswoman Emily Roy said she wasn’t surprised to see businesses struggling to fill positions that require a tertiary level qualification, which people often have to leave town to obtain.

A university campus in Tamworth would help address the issue, she said. “Skilled workers often end up leaving to get their degree and if they do want to come back, they have to wait until a job is available,” Ms Roy said.

The local construction and transport industries are sectors finding it difficult to fill vacant positions.

While employers often want someone who can “hit the ground running”, Ms Roy said if businesses were flexible with their parameters, they might have more luck finding suitable candidates.

“The last thing a small business needs is someone who doesn’t know what they are doing – every dollar is stretched and they need to know they’ll get a return on their salary, which is essentially an investment,” she said.

“But businesses should think outside the box. Look for a good fit for your organisation, not just at a person’s qualifications. That might be an older person with a completely different work history, but ready to try a brand new career. Or it could be a young person, who brings enthusiasm and a willingness to work. They may need to be trained, but they also come with smaller salaries.”

Joe Townsend, manager of the New England North West NSW Business Chamber, said looking to the next generation and succession planning could be the answer.

“In regards to professional services, there are plenty of early graduates and those in their mid-20s looking to relocate to the bush,” Mr Townsend said.

“Young people are more willing to move back to the country, where as those who are slightly older often aren’t.”

Another avenue businesses may wish to tap into is the large number of unemployed Year 12 finishers. 

“That workforce may not be highly skilled, but there are great opportunities there,” Mr Townsend said.

Ms Roy said there were plenty of government initiatives, such as the National Work Experience program, to help businesses connect with potential employees.

As of April, businesses can get $1000 up front for taking on a young job seeker as an intern for four to 12 weeks, with the option to hire them at the end of the placement.

A skilled worker shortage is nothing new for the regional NSW, with many people leaving because of a lack of tertiary education or employment options, or simply for a lifestyle change.

The most recent data from the Bureau of Statistics shows the Tamworth local government area has consistently had more business exits then business entries. 

From 2012 to 2014, the region has averaged 434 business exits per year, while business entries have averaged at 346 over the same period.

Unemployment in the Tamworth region is sitting at 7.46 per cent, significantly above the national average of 5.6 per cent.

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TAMWORTH is so much more than the Country Music Festival, which is why The Leader is launching the #OurTamworth campaign.

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