Regional Skills Development Project

The Regional Skills Development Project commenced in 2012 as a multi-stakeholder commitment to understanding and strengthening the future regional workforce. This was a joint project covering two RDA regions: Barossa and, Adelaide Hills, Fleurieu and Kangaroo Island. Work on this project is now complete with the reports available at the bottom of this webpage.

IMG 2110

 

Aim

The aim of the project is to ascertain industry’s current and future skills; recruitment needs in line with current business planning and projections; and seek details of the skills that will enable enterprises to grow their business beyond these plans and move into new or evolving markets.

 

Key observations

  • Both regions, on average, have below state average unemployment rates; however there is growing concern about lagging workforce participation rates and higher unemployment rates around Gawler and in the Southern Fleurieu which matches the decline of the manufacturing industry.
  • Sole operators make up two thirds of all business in the regions. The (currently challenged) construction industry has the largest share of sole operators (or sub-contractors).
  • Employers are generally happy with their employees’ technical skills. More than 80% of employers surveyed reported that the skill level of their employees was either adequate or above what is required. However more training  is required on soft skills (initiative and self-management) and communication skills (e.g. customer service)
  • There is a large communication gap, or misunderstanding of the complex apprenticeship system (especially with regard to understanding the cost/benefit ratio) with many small business owners identifying that apprenticeships are not relevant to their business as they could not support a full-time apprentice (which they understand to be necessary).

Recommendations

  • For the State government to develop a job-creating investment strategy for the region (with a focus on Gawler and the Southern Fleurieu), focusing on infrastructure development needs such as water reuse infrastructure, roads, rail and ports.
  • For the construction industry and workforce (with support from government), to focus on up skilling in three areas of skill need identified from this research; management skills, marketing and business financials.
  • For training organisations and management to improve training on employability skills in particular especially communication skills (i.e. customer service), self-management skills, initiative and entrepreneurial skills. Target group: existing workers and job-seekers looking for work in tourism, retail trade, and aged care services.
  • For the Australian Government to implement in full the recommendations of the Apprenticeships for the 21 Century Expert Panel. Of particular relevance to regional employers are the recommendations relating to the quality and effectiveness of the Australian Apprenticeships system (Recommendation 2), employer incentives (Recommendation 5), and support for apprentices and trainees located in regional areas (recommendation 10). As well, we recommend that the State government quarantine apprenticeships from Skills for All funding caps.
  • For the Apprenticeship system to be re-shaped to ensure that the system is relevant and accessible to small business.
  • For both RDA Barossa and RDA Adelaide Hills, Fleurieu and Kangaroo Island to develop a set of agreed economic and social indicators to enable measurement of progress going forward.

Reports

 

M Delaney, December 2013