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Skill shortage in Western NSW

WORKING DROUGHT: Agriculture is one area that has been affected by the skill shortage in western NSW. Photo: SHUTTERSTOCK.
WORKING DROUGHT: Agriculture is one area that has been affected by the skill shortage in western NSW. Photo: SHUTTERSTOCK.

Over half the businesses in western NSW are reporting a skills shortage in the area, particularly in agriculture, forestry and fishing, transport, postal and warehousing and manufacturing / engineering.

The latest Workforce Skills Survey report from the NSW Business Chamber said 57 per cent of business owners in the Central West, Orana and Far West region have reported skills shortage, higher than the state average of 55.4 per cent.

Two-thirds of these businesses said the shortage was because they are unable to hire suitable staff and many identified a lack of skills being the reason for their unsuitability, according to Western NSW Business Chamber.

What do you think? Story continues after survey.

"The Workforce Skills Survey findings are clear - more must be done to train the next generation to ensure Western NSW has the requisite skills to sustain existing and future economic activity," said Vicki Seccombe, Regional Manager, Western NSW Business Chamber.

"We have a clear lack of trade skills in the region with businesses in a number of industries such as manufacturing, mining, transport and agriculture, telling me it's a big issue for them."

A regional business said finding apprentices is a big issue.

Access to skilled labour is a major issue for our business. We employ a number of apprentices each year, but it is extremely hard to find welders, auto electricians and fitters within the Central West.

Jenny Raffen.

"Access to skilled labour is a major issue for our business. We employ a number of apprentices each year, but it is extremely hard to find welders, auto electricians and fitters within the Central West," said Orange-based Jenny Raffen from Almighty Industries.

According to the survey the reason businesses in the region don't employ school based trainees or apprentices is they don't have enough information about the program or they don't have enough time to supervise.

However 28 per cent of the western NSW businesses expressed an interest in employing more school-based apprentices or trainees. 58 per cent of the businesses surveyed are currently employing a non-school based trainee or apprentice.

"Doing what we've always done isn't working - businesses are crying out for staff," Ms Seccombe said.

"To help address skill shortages in NSW, the Chamber is calling for; a doubling of the number of school-based apprenticeships delivered in NSW each year. Industry-based careers advice for students and parents from year 9 for all schools across NSW and Increased utilisation of existing TAFE facilities and resources to boost training outcomes."

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This story Worker drought: Half of businesses in region suffering skills shortage first appeared on Western Magazine.