- 24 May 2019
On Wednesday night, RDA Southern Inland hosted their first Jobs Agenda Forum at the Grace Milsom Centre to start a conversation amongst local industry, educators, government and others about skills shortages in Goulburn Mulwaree and the Upper Lachlan. The night kicked off at 5:30pm, first allowing attendees to meet and network amongst themselves before settling in to what was a very engaging evening.
Daryl Smith, RDA Southern Inland’s Business Attraction and Development Manager, was MC for the forum and introduced the evening and its purpose.
“Unemployment and more importantly underemployment are a continuing issue for Australians, especially those in rural and regional Australia,” said Mr Smith. He continued, “The changing world of work is also producing a "skills gap" - the difference between the skills we have and the skills we need to keep up with evolving workforce needs”.
The first guest speaker was Fiona Anson from JobGetter. JobGetter is an online platform that allows businesses and employees to connect. It also provides useful data on jobs and skills that are most in demand for the region. Fiona explained how “JobGetter’s collaborative platform brings the entire ecosystem together”. This includes, jobseekers, government, employers, workers, job seeker advocates, educators, parents and chambers, who can all be a part of the skills gap solution.
The second speaker for the night was Project Officer Camilla Staff from RDA Southern Inland, who spoke about their STEM Industry School Partnerships Program (S.I.S.P), a dynamic program that links local schools with industry to engage students in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) learning. This program, Ms Staff explained, is a grass-roots, long-term strategy to addressing skills shortages. 75% of jobs in the future will require STEM skills and S.I.S.P is a program that is helping prepare students for the future workforce.
After the conclusion of presentations, it was time for the most inclusive part of the night. Seven panel speakers firstly introduced themselves before answering questions from the audience. The panel was made up of Crookwell High School Careers Advisor, Stephanie Needham, Jillian Atkinson representing TAFE, Ashlee Jones from Country University Centre, Geoff Kettle from Gunlake Quarries, Mareeca Flannery, CEO of RDA Southern Inland, Andrew Haskins from the Southern Region Business Enterprise Centre and the President of the Chamber of Commerce, Mark Bradbury.
Julia Roberts from Mulwaree High School started off the question time, informing the panel of how schools are struggling to find work experience opportunities for their students. Ben Pearson from Pearson Engineering spoke about his success with work experience students and how some have been offered long-term employment through his business. TAFE’s capacity and agility to deliver courses that meet industry needs was a key point of discussion, with TAFE representatives outlining that TAFE is halfway through a 6 year restructure. Big plans are marked for Goulburn, including the reintroduction of a Certificate 3 in Hospitality and Commercial Cookery. The changing nature of jobs was also discussed, with Ian Wiskin from Hume Coal explaining to the room the hi-tech nature of mining jobs in today’s world. The changing nature of agriculture and jobs available in this industry was also discussed.
Overall the evening was successful in initiating discussion and bringing together key stakeholders in the employment ecosystem. RDA Southern Inland will continue to initiate and facilitate discussions over the next few months, to ensure a coordinated and collaborative approach to the local skills issue.