Growth levels to fall

Medium term growth projections for Gippsland’s employment levels look to fall well behind state and national average increases, with the number of jobs across the region tipped to grow 3.4 per cent by 2017.

The region’s latest job prospect projections, from the Federal Department of Education Employment and Workplace Relations, predict the region will largely miss out on a state-wide job market growth of 5.5 per cent.

This is set against national growth projections of 7.1 per cent, with the construction and retail sectors set to see in excess of 100,000 additional jobs by 2017, while health care and social assistance is set to grow a whopping 177,000 jobs.

In Gippsland, the retail and construction sectors are penned to host the largest boost, with 1700 extra jobs in both industries over the five years.

However sectors titled by the report as ‘agriculture forestry and fishing’, ‘mining’, ‘electricity gas water and waste services’, ‘wholesale trade’, ‘financial and insurance services’, and ‘arts and recreation’, are all set to see workforce retractions.

Regional lobby group Committee for Gippsland said it was disappointing to see the projected retractions hitting a number of Gippsland industries which had growth potential.

“It’s especially concerning if you are looking at slowing of growth in the agricultural sector; we strongly believe Gippsland can be a national food bowl,” C4G chief executive Mary Aldred said.

“Gippsland has huge agricultural resources with high-yield soils, and a diverse horticultural sector which is a real strength in the region, and we really need to capitalise on those strengths.

“These figures show us we need to really get serious encouraging those sectors to find opportunities to really grow in the region.”

Ms Aldred said it was “absolutely crucial” the retail sector – as the region’s largest employer – maintained growth patterns as shown in the projections,.

“Forty per cent of Gippsland towns have under 1000 people, so for all those small towns it is so vital for those community’s prosperity that retail continues to grow.”

However Victorian Employers’ Chamber of Commerce and Industry executive director of policy Richard Clancy said while the region should give serious regard to the employment figures, there were other factors the projections did not consider.

“It’s important to analyse these industries in terms of the way they have been trending in the longer term,” Mr Clancy said.

“It depends what’s happening to those roles and how those industries are structured – what are their output levels and how are those industries using labour differently in line with discovering production efficiencies?”