1381.0 - Research Paper: A Review of Regional Development Australia Committee Regional Plans, 2013
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 12/03/2013 First Issue
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Most RDA committees (47) identified unemployment levels or a lack of employment opportunities as a key issue for the region.
5.3.1 Unemployment and Underemployment
Above average unemployment rates and low labour force participation rates were reported to be concerns in 32 regions, particularly among youth and in Indigenous communities. High levels of underemployment – where many employees worked on a part-time, casual or seasonal basis - were reported in eight regions. Some RDA committees also identified that this issue was masked by relatively low overall unemployment levels. Below average weekly incomes and the geographic concentration of extremely high and intergenerational unemployment were reported by several RDA committees.
5.3.2 Lack of Employment Opportunities
A lack of employment opportunities was identified in 28 regions. The need to increase the diversity of employment options was a key issue for many regions. Also, the lack of professional and high-paying jobs was often identified and was considered a barrier to attracting and retaining an educated workforce. Several RDA committees reported that a lack of entry level and graduate positions were contributing to high youth unemployment. The ACT also identified a lack of employment opportunities for those people with a disability who may require assistance to participate in the workforce (2011, p. 59).
Many RDA committees reported the need for more local job opportunities and land for industrial and commercial activity to reduce travel time, road congestion and reliance on major cities for employment. A common problem was the need to generate the number of new jobs required to ensure employment levels kept pace with a growing population or job losses in declining industries. Many RDA committees also discussed the need for community training centres to retrain retrenched workers and those working in declining industries.
5.3.3 Other Employment Issues
Several regions reported that there was an inadequate understanding of the capabilities of and cultural barriers to the employment of immigrants and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders (for example: RDA Riverina NSW, 2011, p.21; RDA Central West, 2011, pp. 29-32; RDA Kimberley, 2011, p.40). Other employment issues included a high level of the population reliant on Australian Government pensions and allowances in Tasmania (2011, p. 5) and a large difference between the incomes of people who work in the resources sector and those who do not in the Pilbara region (RDA Pilbara Inc., 2012, p. 31).
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