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    David Jochinke.

Workforce brainstorm a good start

By DEAN LAWSON

Liveability, employment-opportunity promotion and home-grown education are initial themes to emerge from an in-depth Wimmera and southern Mallee think-tank session into regional workforce needs.

Session organisers expect an assessment and summary of ideas from the Horsham gathering, which will be presented to the State Government, to further expand on the themes.

Industry leaders, employers and workers gathered at the Wimmera Southern Mallee Regional Partnership deep-dive forum to dissect issues surrounding workforce issues and consider ways of attracting, retaining and training workers. The forum, at the headquarters of Horsham business Smallaire in Golf Course Road, included Victorian Regional Development Minister Jaclyn Symes, Jobs, Innovation and Trade Minister Martin Pakula and Parliamentary Secretary for Regional Victoria Danielle Green.



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The session was in response to the regional partnership identifying a need to fill workforce shortages across the region, particularly in health, education, early-years, aged-care and service-support industries, as a priority.

Many consider the workforce issue a symptom of regional population decline with people leaving the region to train, develop skills and improve their qualifications.

Partnership chairman David Jochinke said the session provided an opportunity for participants to put ideas on the table and ‘pull the issue apart from different angles’. 

“It led to a melting pot of ideas about workforce attraction and retention and a need for us to develop and grow our own. It was very much focused on local business, education providers, service providers and identifying opportunities and blockages,” he said.

“Liveability included everything from affordable housing, education, health and infrastructure services to telecommunication and roads. 

“For example, an overarching question is: do we have a region that is attractive enough for people to come and stay to raise families? It is also about understanding what we have – does this promote jobs?

“Other questions include, what are emerging industries as well as agriculture? What does mining mean for the area? What does it all mean for our regional community?

“Then there was discussion about career opportunities and how we need to promote ourselves. 

“The truth is we have many leading-edge technologies in the Wimmera but tend to sell ourselves short. 

“For example we don’t necessarily advertise the region through promotion of job packages, where family partners coming into the region might find jobs in different sectors.

“And then there was the concept of growing our own workforce by exploring more education opportunities.

“The deep-dive revealed these themes, but after exploring information gathered from the session there could well be more.

“We basically have a bucketload of information to sift through and after we do that will circulate a clearer picture of what we’ve identified. 

“It is then about considering, through discussion and planning, what we can either do ourselves or how we can work with government ministers and agencies to meet identified solutions.”

The Wimmera Southern Mallee Partnership is one of nine regional volunteer partnership bodies across Victoria established by the State Government in 2016.

The entire November 27, 2019 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

The entire November 27, 2019 edition of AgLife is available online. READ IT HERE!