Attracting and retaining workers in the North presentation to the Northern Population Matters symposium 4 August 2016, Darwin Dr Kate Golebiowska, Northern Institute, CDU, Darwin

Presentation outline White Paper on Developing Northern Australia – context for attracting and retaining workers in the North Overview of Darwin labour market Key statistics and mobility motivations of int’l migrants to Darwin and NT ‘Untapped’ labour force supply groups in Darwin – selected survey (2015) results Summary

White Paper on Developing Northern Australia The Paper (June 2015) provides a policy framework for developing the North. Growing and developing the northern workforce is one of the priority areas for action: • • • •

improving and expanding temporary work migration programs, facilitating moves to the NT of trade workers (easier recognition of licences) improving and securing Indigenous jobs opportunities in remote areas, advice and training grants available to businesses expanding their operations in the North, • a range of national programs supporting transition to work (eg. for young people, those needing to relocate for a job, $ support to business offering work experience & ongoing job to unemployed Australians)

White Paper on Developing Northern Australia – cont. • Countries added to the Working Holiday Maker visa program: Israel (June 2016, cap 500 visas/year), China (September 2015, cap 5,000/year). Vietnam, PNG, Greece – arrangements signed but not yet in effect • Federal initiatives to support workforce supply in the North: (a) Since late 2015 WHMs can work up to 12 months with one Northern employer (previously 6 months) in aged & disability care, agriculture & fishing, construction, mining, tourism & hospitality (b) Second Work and Holiday (subclass 462) visa (currently one in a lifetime) for those who work 3 months in agriculture, tourism & hospitality in the North. Applications to open in late 2016.

Darwin labour market overview •

Small resident labour force 65,300 & high participation rate 68.7% (ABS 2011 Census)

3.3% average unemployment rate in 2015 (NT Treasury 2016) = little capacity to draw extra workers from the local labour market. Business resorts to interstate and new immigrant workers.

Extreme indicators for recruitment and retention difficulties, vacancies/100 staff, average job applicant numbers/vacancy among all capital cities (Cmwlth Dept of Employment 2015)

NT has highly mobile population: average 16,000+ /pa inward and onward moves (NT Treasury 2014). Many in/out Darwin and workrelated

Key statistics and mobility motivations of int’l migrants to Darwin and NT Permanent skilled additions 1996-97 to 2013-14: in most years employer-nominated visas (eg. RSMS, LAs) drove skilled permanent additions in the NT. In 2014-15, the GSM visas came first, employer-nominated second 2013-14 & 2014-15: approx. 33% regional dispersal of employer-nominated visas, 66% for positions in Darwin (principal applicants) 2012 survey of RSMS migrants (Taylor et al. 2014) RSMS - 93 % retention in NT, 78% no intention to leave 7% already left NT (median 38mth stay) further 22% planned to leave Why stay? employment opportunities; lifestyle, climate Why leave? climate or remoteness; cost of living incl. housing; looking for job/has job elsewhere

Key statistics and mobility motivations of int’l migrants to Darwin and NT – cont’d. Geographic distribution of 457 visa grants 2013-14 & 2014-15 79% Darwin, 21% regional NT Family migration to NT 2013-14 & 2014-15 NT received a boost of 500+/year of family migrants through permanent additions. Philippines, India, Thailand, UK, Greece – top countries of origin No readily available data on the geographic distribution of these migrants in the Territory No NT specific surveys on mobility motivations of family stream migrants 2012 research on immigrant-born ECEC workforce in Darwin (Golebiowska and Boyle 2014) suggests family migrants may be skilled but often employed in occupations other they trained for abroad Why stay? lifestyle/climate, family ties, like Darwin community, work satisfaction

‘Untapped’ labour force supply groups, Darwin Online survey of 75 SMEs in Darwin (Golebiowska & Boyle 2015) suggests there are local groups: • resident immigrants & refugees /settled in the last 5 years, • people with a disability, • mature age job seekers (50 and over) that could be better tapped into to help address skills shortages. Survey served to understand the employers’ experience, intentions and need for support when training and employing individuals from these groups.

‘Untapped’ labour force supply groups of working age, Darwin, 2011 Census People unemployed and not in labour force: • with disability – 808 (need help w/core activities) • aged 50 to 64 – 4,267 • immigrants & refugees (arrived 2006 to 2011) – 1,132 * Disability, older age, language/ethnic background – main reasons why people were discouraged job seekers (ABS September 2013 survey on persons not in the lab force)

Detailed survey results:

Accessing the ‘untapped’ labour force groups How to find them? Key recruitment channels for all groups - word of mouth, then newspapers, websites (e.g. SEEK). In our survey minimal or little use of recruitment agencies, DES, JSA but do not generalise this is the case for all SMEs. Employability and occupational roles Certificate-level qualified people most employable Employment in all occupational roles managers  labourers

Retaining the ‘untapped’ labour force groups SMEs strategies for retention • appropriate training for the job • treating them no differently than other workers while supporting them • recognising and respecting experience • creating accessible, inclusive work environment • communicating honestly and openly.

Perceptions of success of employment Workers from each of the 3 ‘untapped groups’: • • • •

Thought to have good/excellent retention Are motivated, committed to the job Demonstrate high work standards Possess excellent work ethics (e.g will not throw a sickie on Friday to go fishing like Aussie workers)

Between 76% and 90% of surveyed SMEs would employ new workers from these groups. Highest reservation (unsure 20%) was for people with a disability


Darwin and NT have access to temporary (e.g. WHMs) and permanent skilled workers • WHMs – agreements being negotiated with IN, PH that have established communities in Darwin and with BR, MX that have large cohorts of young people. • NT employers are successful at attracting and retaining most skilled workers under RSMS. Lifestyle and climate important motivations for staying.

Other skilled groups in the labour market • Family migrants…. but may work in occupations other they have trained for • In light of tight labour market in Darwin, considering people from any of the 3 ‘untapped’ groups can be smart business strategy e.g. to expand pool of potential candidates, reduce staff turnover and gain committed staff. • Find them through word of mouth/networking.

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Darwin labour market overview – cont. Key industries with current and projected demand Industry


Projected (2016 to 2020)

Health and social assistance



Education and training



Community and personal services





Professional, scientific and technical services



Accommodation and food services



Public administration and safety

No info


Retail trade

No info


Most new jobs now and in the future are and will be medium to higher skilled. Sources: Cmwlth Department of Employment 2015a; 2016.

Occupational roles with over 25% of responses Job/occupational roles

Disability (n=26/75)

Immigrants & refugees (n=15/75)

Mature age (n=30/75)


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Professionals Technicians & trades Community & personal service

Clerical & administrative Labourers

2. Golebiowska_Attracting and retaining workers in the north.pdf ...

Countries added to the Working Holiday Maker visa program: Israel (June 2016,. cap 500 visas/year), China (September 2015, cap 5,000/year). Vietnam, PNG,.

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