New research showing two million Australians living in metropolitan communities want to move to the bush within the next three years had Dubbo's Megan Dixon declaring "that's a lot of houses we have to provide" at a sold-out event in the city.
The director of regional development for Regional Development Australia (RDA) Orana explained that a housing shortage in the region was a critical factor in the struggle to fill job vacancies.
She was speaking at RDA Orana's third and annual Inland Growth Summit, themed 'More jobs than people'.
Mrs Dixon said about 80 per cent of the people taking part in the summit at Lazy River Estate were from outside the region, a sign "our issues aren't unique".
"There's strength in numbers," she said.
"That's why we started these forums.
"We want to come together so we can go to government together in terms of being able to influence policy responses to the issue of having more jobs than people."
On the matter of housing, Mrs Dixon said "we will definitely approach government on the issue".
"Places like Dubbo and Mudgee have enough scale to achieve private investment and there's good capital returns," she said.
"The further inland you go it's not the same return so housing is a much bigger issue."
Mrs Dixon said developers in the region were advising of quick sales and homes to rent were hard to find.
"We are already working with local government about the need to accelerate land supply," she said.
Summit participants outlined their difficulties in filling job vacancies and shared the results of programs put in place to address the problem.
RDA Riverina's director of regional development Rachel Whiting told of multiple strategies being employed including 'Grow our own' which raised awareness among young people of "career opportunities and not just jobs".
Participants were matched with employers who helped line up the "right training", she said.
"We found that successful but at the moment we are struggling to find funding to continue that program which is really disappointing," Ms Whiting said.
The unemployment rate in the Orana region is 2.3 per cent as compared to 6.4 for NSW and 6.6 for Australia.
There have been 1700 job vacancies in the region since November.
Skilled workers are still needed but now also unskilled and semi-skilled.
"That's one of the things that has really changed for us in terms of the job vacancies in the region," Mrs Dixon said.
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