For the recovery of the North Coast region's economy to begin, and for businesses to be able to start employing workers, strategic planning and collaboration at all levels must occur suggests a new plan.
Regional Development Australia Mid North Coast (RDAMNC) and Northern Rivers (RDANR), launched their North Coast Workforce Strategy and Action Plan simultaneously in Bellingen and Lismore.
The launch is the culmination of collaborative efforts between the organisations and the plan aims to be a catalyst for change and the beginnings of a new approach to solving regional employment issues.
Included in the strategy is the need to address the duplication of initiatives setup to deal with regional unemployment and the lack of consistent funding to support programs.
The plan proposes a structured approach of how to address unemployment in the region and includes the forming of a regional board and working groups to implement key strategies and actions.
The strategy was launched by RDAMNC and RDANR alongside Member for Cowper Pat Conaghan, and Member for Page Kevin Hogan.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr Conaghan said the government has provided an unprecedented level of support for local businesses and employees and the focus is now on recovery and reform.
"The government's JobMaker plan is built on enabling a business-led economic recovery," Mr Conaghan said.
"JobMaker also involves billions of dollars of investment in improving people's skills, supporting with a wage subsidy some 180,000 apprentices and bringing business and unions together nationally to create the industrial relations conditions to get people into work.
"The North Coast NSW Employment Strategy and Action Plan launched today is a good, local initiative that I support as better collaboration will help to support growth and employment opportunities."
The North Coast has a $62 billion economy with over 200,000 jobs.
On the Mid North Coast, prior to COVID-19 and the introduction of social lockdown measures to manage the pandemic, the total employment across all local industry sectors was estimated at 95,430.
For May 2020, REMPLAN estimated total employment on the Mid North Coast at 81,709, a fall of 14.4 per cent while in the Northern Rivers 15,000 jobs have been lost.
These statistics point towards the need for a regional plan to prepare for recovery that will occur post-crisis.
"The employment system is broken, and it has been for a long time. This plan maps a way forward that will provide a better solution for all involved," Kerry Grace, CEO of RDAMNC said.
"No collective strategy to address employment opportunities currently exists and it needs to begin by connecting with employers."
The strategy encourages new thinking and place-based innovative solutions rather than programs that are air dropped into a region with a one size fits all approach.
RDAMNC is addressing the issue of connecting with local employers and have developed an employment solution called My Future Workforce.
The platform will be officially launched in August and will help address many of the issues raised in the North Coast Workforce Strategy and Action Plan.