The Latrobe-Gippsland region attracted 7500 new jobs in the last quarter of 2016, according to the latest data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. So where are they?
The figure comes as Victoria’s regional unemployment rate dropped to five per cent in the December quarter.
State Member for Eastern Victoria Harriet Shing said it was hard to break down where the new jobs were attributed, but cited the level of sustained investment from new industries and businesses as a key factor for new jobs.
“Manufacturing, retail, trade, administration, healthcare and social assistance are the primary industries where new jobs are being established,” Ms Shing said.
However, ABS statistics show the average unemployment rate is on the rise in the Latrobe-Gippsland region, with last quarter’s rate at 10.2 per cent compared to the lower rate of 9.6 per cent in the final quarter of 2015.
With the pending closure of Hazelwood many people are pre-empting the Valley’s unemployment rate will rise quickly after 31 March.
“There have been many people who have wanted to get into work, have completed their education or people coming out of areas of unemployment after reskilling getting jobs,” Ms Shing said.
She said there is a good sense of momentum across the Valley even with the Hazelwood closure fast approaching.
“We’re preparing for that,” Ms Shing said.
“It’s not just about bringing in temporary jobs but supporting existing jobs in the Valley to grow and diversify in a region that has some really big challenges afoot.
“There is a really good level of optimism with the State Government in conjunction with Latrobe City Council and the Latrobe Valley Authority who have been working tirelessly to develop a good future for Gippsland.”
Ms Shing said the unemployment rate regionally had decreased in the last quarter from eight per cent to 7.4 per cent, however noted youth unemployment was a big concern for the Valley.
“Our priority is to use the $266 million (allocated after Hazelwood’s closure) in the best possible way to efficiently and diligently provide long-term employment benefits around the Valley,” she said.
“When you’re tackling something like youth unemployment these are the types of issues where education and training come into play and will be a huge factor for youth employment… so it needs to be done properly.
“We want young people to stay in the Valley, to raise a family here and know they have opportunities to succeed beyond primary and secondary education.”
Anglicare Gippsland regional director Jane Anderson said the large government investment for the Valley must respond to the needs of residents.
“Youth unemployment remains an issue for the Latrobe Valley and with the transition of Hazelwood’s closure it’s going to become a very competitive market for job seekers,” Ms Anderson said.
“It’s important for the various initiatives from all levels of government continue to improve employment and economic development opportunities that cater for all of the community,” she said.
Ms Anderson said there needed to be an emphasis on new initiatives and real practical support for help.