employment - 2ST

Chamber president says worker shortage a growing problem


Jemma Tribe has been re-elected Shoalhaven Business Chamber president as the organisation moves from two years of supporting businesses through lockdowns to helping operators make the most of improved economic conditions.

But she said as businesses looked forward to a busy summer they were again facing the workforce shortages that were evident before the second lockdown.

"It's reared its ugly head again as things open up, and in a big way too because we're seeing lots of tourism, hospitality and retail businesses picking up again as visitors come back to our area, and that's really highlighting these workforce shortages," Mrs Tribe said.

She said many factors contributed to the shortage, including TAFE colleges having trouble training staff during the past couple of years during COVID restrictions, and restrictions on workers entering Australia from overseas.

Even the Shoalhaven's housing shortage was playing a role.

"People are looking for employees across all sectors and we're finding that it's difficult to attract staff, and if they do manage to attract them from outside the area, finding housing for them is the next challenge so then keeping them here for those job opportunities is also very difficult," Mrs Tribe said.

"It's something that we're seeing right across the board at the moment."

While many industries were struggling to find staff, Mrs Tribe said among the hardest hit was hospitality which was searching for chefs and pastry chefs.

But she said initiatives were being formulated to help attract more workers to short-staffed businesses and industries.

Mrs Tribe said working to attract workers to the region and local businesses was a big change from the chamber's work of the past couple of years, which had mainly been focused on helping operators survive the pandemic.

"The Business Chamber has been really busy over the past two years focusing on business recovery and digital optimisation, so really helping businesses makes the most of grants and opportunities, advocating to local, state and federal members about businesses' needs, particularly around the burdens and challenges of COVID compliance, insurance for businesses in bushfire-impacted regions, and workforce shortages as well," she said.

"All of these issues we've been taking forward on behalf of our members."

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TAFE opens the door to jobs in Shoalhaven defence industry

Production and manufacturing in Australia is rising and strengthening GDP and overall economy. Employment in processing sector in Australia is growing.

People looking for new careers and opportunities have a chance to get their foot in the door with the region's booming defence industry.

Nowra TAFE has joined forces with the Shoalhaven defence supply chain industry, to offer a free employment program to jumpstart a career in the industry.

Ryan Harding from TAFE NSW said students would start next week on a Certificate 1 in Engineering and work placement with defence accredited businesses.

"There's a number of local businesses in the Shoalhaven that are needing skilled workforce, so as a result TAFE partnered with the Shoalhaven Defence Industry Group and training services to offer a 10-week program," he said.

That includes six weeks in class learning a range of technical skills, and four weeks of work experience at some of the Shoalhaven's leading businesses that are lining up to be involved in the program.

And there is a promise of plenty of long-term jobs for people who complete the  course.

"Our business partners are Air Affairs, Sikorsky, Global Defence Solutions, Mellori and NowChem, and they're looking to offer jobs to the participants in aircraft maintenance, advanced manufacturing and logistics, just to name a few," Mr Harding said.

"These are quite high -value jobs and this is a great opportunity to get your foot in the door in a booming industry."

The program is part of a local strategy to help address skill shortages and support Shoalhaven defence suppliers to meet increased demand after the Australian Government’s $200 billion investment to increase defence capability.
TAFE NSW Head Teacher Metal Fabrication and Welding Trades, Nathan Bayliss, said the program offered anyone looking to start a career or reskill the chance to explore a career pathway in a fast-growing industry. 

"There is high demand in the Shoalhaven area for skilled workers in a range of areas, including advanced manufacturing, engineering, electronics, welding, and aircraft maintenance,” Mr Bayliss said.  

"Students will attend training three days a week at TAFE NSW Nowra, learning real-world practical skills in engineering and fabrication. The program will give students a competitive edge, with the skills ready to start work in the industry."

One of the business partners is Air Affairs Australia, and production manager Darren Bramley said finding workers with the right skill set had been challenging . 
"This program will help train students with the work-ready skills industry needs and connect our business with potential job candidates," he said.     
People interested in being part of the Defence Industry Workforce program can register by contacting Daniel Bennett, Illawarra Yes Coordinator on 0408 937 070 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..