New ways of work to increase Hunter’s millennial appeal
The Hunter stands to benefit from an ongoing shift to the regions by young people, especially in the wake of COVID-19, the Hunter Business Chamber says.
Commenting on The Big Movers report released today by the Regional Australia Institute (RAI), which showed millennials were continuing to desert capital cities for the regions, Chamber CEO Bob Hawes said the workplace changes forced by the pandemic had created an opportunity for the Hunter.
“The increasing acceptability of remote working by employers and employees may mean that people can in future have a head-office job but do it from Newcastle, Nelson Bay or Maitland rather than having to live in Sydney or Melbourne,” Mr Hawes said.
“The lifestyle and affordability of the regions have always been big drawcards for young people but one of the main disincentives to them moving to regions is the lack of job choice and opportunity for career progression, compared with capital city markets.
“The workforce changes that are widely predicted to be an outcome of the pandemic may open new opportunities for people whose jobs allow them the flexibility to work remotely.
“It will challenge the perception that you have to compromise professionally to move to or remain in an area like the Hunter.”
But Mr Hawes said investing in infrastructure to better connect regions like the Hunter with capital cities still needed to be a priority, to provide workforce mobility for those who needed it and efficient supply lines for goods and services.
“We have long argued that infrastructure investment in the Hunter has significant potential to relieve issues such as congestion, over-population and property affordability that are holding back growth in Sydney and other capital cities,” Mr Hawes said. “Governments can get much more bang for their infrastructure buck in the Hunter, where a single major investment in a project such as a hospital, major road or airport has significant ripple effects in terms of job creation, industry attraction and increased economic activity.”
Mr Hawes said the Chamber, along with its affiliate Business NSW, was keen to see the NSW Government leading the way in regionalising the workforce by setting up cross-agency work hubs in regional centres that would make it easier for public service workers to decentralise from head offices.
The RAI report showed Newcastle was one of Australia’s top three regional destinations of choice for millennials on the move, with Lake Macquarie and Maitland also proving popular.