Dubbo and western NSW have recorded the strongest annual growth in job ads of anywhere in regional Australia as the demand for workers outside of mainland state capitals hits an all-time high, the Regional Australia Institute (RAI) reports.
The number of positions advertised for the "Dubbo and Western NSW Region" more than doubled in the year to March 2021, data from the think tank shows.
The region had 1514 job vacancies last month, and there were more than 66,200 jobs available in regional towns and cities across the country, the RAI reports.
RAI chief executive officer Liz Ritchie says nationally it is the largest number since records began, surpassing the demand during the mining construction boom a decade ago.
"Regional job vacancies now account for nearly one-third of all vacancies across the country," Ms Ritchie said.
"The last time the labour market was this strong was during the mining construction boom in 2011-2012."
"Back then, the overall economic situation was defined by the country's two-speed economy, with job ads narrowly based in the resource-rich states and industries.
"By contrast, the current strength in the regional labour market is broadly based across all states and territories and occupations, with the greatest demand being for professionals and skilled tradespeople."
In March 2021, a record number of jobs were advertised in regional areas of NSW, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and the ACT.
In Queensland and Western Australia, regional job vacancies were not far below previous records, while in the Northern Territory, regional job ads have been trending higher over the past eight months.
There are currently over 56,000 jobs available in #RegionalAus! #icymi our Senior Economist Diwa Hopkins has analysed the latest job vacancy figures for regions, saying demand for labour in early 2021 is stronger than pre-COVID times. Read about it here: https://t.co/NBCG8bU8vG— Regional Australia Institute (@RegionalAus) April 9, 2021
RAI chief economist Dr Kim Houghton says the "Dubbo and Western NSW Region" recorded the strongest annual growth, with job ads up by 117 per cent in the year to March 2021.
Within the region, the professionals category had 513.3 advertised vacancies, giving it a massive lead over the second-place category, clerical and administrative workers, which had 226.7 vacancies, data from the RAI shows.
Coming under the professionals category, there were 197 advertised vacancies for medical practitioners and nurses.
"Each and every one of the thirty-two regions outside of the mainland state capitals had more vacancies in March 2021 than in the previous month and also more vacancies than a year earlier," Dr Houghton said.
The stand-out sector driving labour demand in regional areas is health care and social assistance, followed by public administration and safety, then the professional, scientific and technical services sectors.
More space. More time. More bang for your buck.#RegionalAus is ready and waiting.— Regional Australia Institute (@RegionalAus) March 16, 2021
Today, our CEO @LizMRitchie launched our National Awareness Campaign, #MoveToMore, with @M_McCormackMP at our #RegionsRising National Summit in Canberra. pic.twitter.com/WhH6tyiekk
Ms Ritchie says there are so many opportunities across regional Australia, which is why the RAI has launched its national multimillion-dollar Move to More campaign.
The campaign's television, radio and digital ads will start rolling out from the end of May.
"Our research in December 2020 found that one in five people living in Perth, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne are considering a move to regional Australia within the next three years - half of them, within 12 months," Ms Ritchie said.
"We need to embrace this regional renaissance and rebalance the nation's population away from our congested capitals if we are to have a sustainable and productive future.
"Of course there will be growing pains with regionalisation, but we should not shy away from the challenges ahead - and housing is one of those.
"While regional communities have long faced housing challenges, these have been amplified by the increased interest in regional living sparked by the coronavirus pandemic and the working-from-home phenomenon.
"Housing will be the focus of RAI's next event in our Regions Rising Webinar Series, where we will bring together experts in the field to shine a light on the challenges and start formulating solutions."
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