Each region has specific workforce needs, depending on the existing and emerging industries and communities. Workforce planning is required to identify current and future vacancies, and effectively attract a suitable workforce, match workers and jobs, promote skills development and fully utilise existing skills. While existing and future workforce shortages in some industries are known through the engagement work that Regional Development Victoria and the local councils have undertaken, detailed workforce planning is required to fully understand the issue across all sectors. Therefore, the goal of the OPAN Workforce Planning Strategy is to inform and ensure the Migration, Housing and Transport Strategies achieve meaningful outcomes.
1.1 Identify all current and expected job vacancies out to 5 years
1.2 Address workforce gaps
The populations of the Ararat and Northern Grampians LGAs were forecast to decline by 2031, with only a modest increase forecasted for the Pyrenees Shire (Victoria in Future 2016). The recent and upcoming economic initiatives provide an opportunity to turn this trend of decline around, but in order for our communities and local economies to grow and thrive, we need to attract and retain workers and their families from elsewhere. Regional migration results in greater diversity, higher average incomes and economies of scale. Livability of regional areas is comparable to, or in some ways better than, outer suburbs of metropolitan areas. The difference in average incomes of outer metropolitan suburbs and regional cities is small at 10%, but average house prices in regional centres is less than half the cost of homes in the metropolitan suburbs (Regional Population Growth - Are We Ready? 2019). Therefore, the goal of the OPAN Migration Strategy is to increase migration of new residents into the 3 OPAN LGAs.
2.1 Organise and prepare the local community for regional migration
2.2 Attract workers who have the right skills and capabilities for the specific workforce shortages occurring in the OPAN region
2.3 Support retention by helping new residents and their families become a part of the community.
It is difficult for new residents to relocate here while housing markets across the 3 OPAN LGAs remain very tight. With an average 1.16 workers per household (people in the labour force divided by the total number of private dwellings, ABS Census 2016), there is not enough housing stock to cater for the expected influx of workers and their families that are needed to fill vacancies. Further to the lack of available stock, the quality and variety of housing is limited. Therefore, the goal of the OPAN Housing Strategy is to increase the supply and variety of quality housing in the region.
3.1 Unlock potential rental options from the existing housing stock
3.2 Build new rental homes to accommodate the needs of new and existing residents
3.3 Provide land and housing development opportunities to meet demand
Existing public transport services (bus and rail) does not support potential workers from neighboring regional centres such as Ballarat, Maryborough and Horsham to work within this region. Further to that, the location of some employment sites are not serviced at all by public transport services, making it difficult for potential employees without a car or drivers licence to access these job opportunities. The overall limited public transport availability and connectivity within the region is generally a disincentive to people considering relocating to the area. Therefore, the goal of the OPAN Transport Strategy is to improve livability by increasing transport connectivity across the region
4.1 Support community led local transport initiatives
4.2 Enhance the public transport network to better meet the needs of the OPAN region