Editorial: New hope, new drive for trades and skills

Regional employers and business have been crying out for years about skills shortages – and it’s still the way today.

Getting skilled workers, and even unskilled workers, is a huge regional recruitment problem.

Ten years back, if you looked at job provider files, employers were desperate to fill plenty of trades, but also retail and hospitality, positions.

Look today, and the ads list fabricators, fitter machinists, electricians, mechanics, building trades, and hospitality, retail and personal services as the go-to jobs to be had.

It’s interesting to examine the latest TAFE analysis of where the top jobs for full time employment lie in the future.

According to TAFE NSW regional general manager Adam Bennett, job seekers should turn, in order of fastest growth, to project building, early childcare, caretaking, property management or in supply and distribution.

Surprising? Maybe that is the forecast for the next three years but some things stay the same – especially when it comes to skills shortages. 

The mining boom fuelled a demand for trades, and while those halcyon days might be gone, the demand is still there in resources.

This time around it’s the renewables energy fields offering the prospect of growth and demand. The new solar and wind farms, particularly in the New England tablelands, and a push to make it the renewables capital of the state, promises more, and certainly for job seekers in those areas.

TAFE says a high skills shortage rate, an ageing population and a number of large investments are key factors for exciting potential opportunities.

Despite government cuts in health and education, new jobs have emerged with private investment in health and medical facilities. 

New aged care and childcare facilities around Tamworth suggest new jobs are on offer.

For young people there is a renewed hope. They’ve been the victims of a youth unemployment market that around this region has been too high for far too long.

A big fall in apprenticeships a few years back has left a void to be filled but the State Government’s bid to boost vocational education and training by delivering 100,000 free apprenticeships across NSW is a step in the right direction. It is a positive, against the negatives and criticisms levelled at TAFE for its previous jobs and courses cuts.