Goondiwindi council hosts industry skills forum

Julia Telford, Sam Noon, Bernie Morris, Justin Heaven, Carl Manton, Jenelle Choyce and Phil O'Shea at the skills forum last week.
Julia Telford, Sam Noon, Bernie Morris, Justin Heaven, Carl Manton, Jenelle Choyce and Phil O'Shea at the skills forum last week.

Goondiwindi Regional Council has hosted an industry skills forum to explore the region's current and future skills needs.

The forum, hosted by Engage and Create's Julia Telford, featured locals Bernie Morris of Lowes Petroleum and businessman and silo committee member Phil O'Shea along with Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry's Justin Heaven and Jenelle Choyce of the Department of Employment, Small Business and Training in a Q and A panel discussion.

Topics covered included barriers and opportunities to develop and recruit skilled employees - now and for the future; strategies targeting workforce training and development; emerging skills needs for local industry and business; and the development of the Regional Skills Investment Strategy Reference Group.

Regional Skills Investment Strategy project coordinator, Samantha Noon, said about 40 representatives from different businesses across town attended from a wide range of industries including health, hospitality and trades.

Guests were asked to contribute with plenty of engaging conversations from both sides.

One of the main focuses was on the challenge of attracting skilled employees. One example being the affordability and availability of accommodation.

Ms Noon said they also discussed attracting and retaining employees in senior roles. "We want to keep these families here but there is a lot of competition from larger centre and the mines," she said.

It wasn't all doom and gloom. They also talked about the region's emerging industries in the next five to 10 years.

"Intensive agriculture was one example," Ms Noon said. "There is the potential for small crops, horticulture, to become more prevalent, especially in the eastern areas of our region."

We need to look at alternatives and think outside the box of our preconceived job opportunities, "using the resources we already have" - so more software or technology-based careers potentially, as an example.

"We had a lot of positive feedback on the day and everyone liked that the council was taking initiative and taking action," Ms Noon said. "They liked to have their ideas heard and that we are working together to come up with solutions."

The feedback will be used in the project outline for the Regional Skills Investment Strategy, and a reference group will be built.

"It's great that we have this funding and that we are able to tell the State Government what works, what doesn't and what needs to change. It's a big step and Goondiwindi seems to have embraced this project."