A new workforce planning strategy is being developed by five local councils to address skills and labour shortages in the region.
The objective of the strategy is to bring an influx of talent to the Namoi region over the coming decade, maximising local benefits from the region's long-held status as a prime agricultural hub on top of it's future status as a Renewable Energy Zone.
According to documentation shown to the Leader, creating a coordinated workforce strategy is "crucial" to the region's economic development.
"The Namoi is experiencing workforce shortages, historically low unemployment, and challenges in maintaining and improving the supply of housing and services," the document reads.
"Whilst changing macro-economic conditions have the potential to assist in workforce attraction and development over the next five years, the region will need to stand out in its approach to succeed in luring and retaining the talented people it needs to grow."
The Regional Workforce Attraction and Retention Strategy is being developed by Namoi Unlimited, a Joint Organisation (JO) of five local councils (Gunnedah, Gwydir, Liverpool Plains, Tamworth and Walcha) with funding from the NSW government.
"The strategy is important because we need so many people from so many different facets of industry. About 17 per cent of the workforce that comes into our region come from overseas, about 16 per cent come from the cities, and a smaller percentage come from the country and coastal areas," Tamworth mayor Russell Webb said.
"What we're working on at the moment is trying to retain the ones that come."
Strategy options to be approved in the final plan include targeted marketing to workers outside the region, supporting long-term settlement for newcomers, improving training opportunities to better align with local business needs, and industry-specific campaigns to capitalise on the strengths of the region.
A definitive date for the strategy's announcement is yet to be determined, but Cr Webb said it's "not very far away".
He also said the newly-developed strategy will work to support the Namoi Regional Jobs Precinct, a state government initiative designed to attract investment into Namoi LGAs by slashing red tape and streamlining project approvals.
The precinct has been in its "investigation and consultation phase" since it was announced more than two years ago, but Cr Webb says the initiative is "coming close to fruition".
"The precinct will identify across our region where there are good areas for intensive operations, evaluating the best places suited to develop our farming infrastructure," Cr Webb said.
A spokesperson for the Department of Regional NSW confirmed the precinct will be ready to move into its next stage once the state government delivers its budget for 2023-24 in September.
Community engagement for the Namoi Regional Job Precinct is expected later this year.
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