Ahead of local government elections in Wollongong and Shellharbour (9 September), there is an opportunity for all candidates to outline their plans to provide greater employment opportunities, particularly for young job seekers.
Illawarra Business Chamber Executive Director, Chris Lamont, said jobs growth should be a focus for all local government aspirants as the region continues its economic transition.
The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics unemployment data confirms overall unemployment in the Illawarra sits at 5.9 per cent, while youth unemployment is more than double that at 12.9 per cent. Even more concerning are the areas within the region where youth unemployment exceeds 25 per cent. The average rate of unemployment for New South Wales is 4.8 per cent and 11.8 per cent for youth.
“Having almost 13 per cent of youth under 25 unemployed across the region will have long term negative consequences for the Illawarra and NSW and must be a focus for all levels of government,” said Chris Lamont.
The Chamber believes the high growth sectors of health care, social assistance, education and training, professional services, advanced manufacturing, tourism and hospitality will provide greater employment opportunities in the future but it was also critical to invest in more affordable transport solutions to connect job seekers to job opportunities both within and outside the region, especially Greater Sydney.
“Decentralisation of government services and administration and improved transport connectivity to provide more affordable access to job centres must be a focus to improve employment opportunities and we look forward to hearing more from local government candidates on their plans in these areas,” said Chris Lamont.
“It is also important that local councils strive to provide greater certainty, streamlined processes and improved governance around planning and development assessments to encourage more investment and support jobs growth,” said Chris Lamont.