Australia is at a turning point. Our productivity is at its slowest pace in 60 years. Consecutive rate rises have families reeling, and consumer confidence has plummeted.
Businesses – large and small – must seize new opportunities to ensure they survive and thrive. And the solution lies well beyond the bright lights of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.
The key to rebuilding a productive Australia lies in rebalancing our population and growing our regional centres.
Our regions produce most of the fresh food you buy at the supermarket, two-thirds of our nation’s exports and 50 per cent of our tourism dollars.
Yet only 30 per cent of Australia’s population call the regions home. The imbalance is stark.
Data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and 11 years of Regional Australia Institute data show the greatest potential for productivity uplift exists in our second and third tier cities – those such as Ballarat, Bendigo, Tamworth, Wagga Wagga, Rockhampton and Toowoomba.
But to boost productivity, you need people.
Right now there are more than 91,000 jobs on offer in some of our nation’s most desirable and idyllic locations. This equates to $1.7 billion in untapped wages.
Filling these vacancies in rural Australia would provide our regions with a seismic economic boost of more than $1.2 billion.
Our latest research tells us that more than one million city workers are dissatisfied with their jobs. The number one reason? The fact their salaries are failing to keep up with the rising cost of living.
The data also revealed nearly half of all city workers would consider a move to regional Australia if it meant a boost to their pay packet.
With thousands of regional employers offering lucrative relocation bonuses and compelling salaries, there’s never been a better time for city dwellers to consider a tree change or sea change.
For the past five years the Regional Australia Institute has been supporting Australians to settle into life outside the city through our ‘Move to More’ campaign.
And now we’re stepping things up a notch, launching the nation’s biggest ever recruitment drive and urging dissatisfied and disengaged city folk to consider what life in regional Australia might look like.
Standing shoulder to shoulder with several of our partners, we want to show city folk that a career in regional Australia is one that sets you up for life – promising fast-tracked career progression, competitive salaries and best of all, a better quality life.
But don’t take it from me. Take it from the hundreds of Australians who’ve already made their move to more.
Take it from former Melburnian Angela Durston Ryan, an up-and-coming engineer who found her ‘more’ in Shepparton. Angela has gained invaluable experience working for property and infrastructure consultants Spiire, and now enjoys a close connection with her community and an even better work-life balance.
Or take it from Alex Ho, a young man from Brisbane who has found his 'more’ in regional South Australia working on a sheep farm. Each day Alex is invigorated by life on the land and is on the cusp of a promising career in our all-important agricultural sector.
Or take it from Linda Lorenzo, a university lecturer who has traded life in Sydney for Mackay. Instead of spending her afternoons in rush hour traffic, Linda enjoys the tropical breeze.
These Australians are living proof that the regions offer incredible job opportunities and an improved lifestyle.
Skilled workers are needed to grow our regional communities. And these workers need industry and business leaders to inspire them to take the leap.
Regional Australia’s biggest ever recruitment drive is about our regions, towns and cities permanently stepping out of the shadows and into the light.
It’s about all of us working together to ensure these all-important communities are equipped to meet the productivity challenges facing this country.
Now is the time to ensure regions are not left behind any longer.
It’s only then Australia can thrive.
Liz Ritchie – CEO