CEO and Director of Regional Development for RDA Riverina Ms Rachel Whiting said the collaboration with the University provided a model to use with other regional universities.
“We are very excited to be able to deliver the work that was conducted over the last two years,” she said.
“The support by Charles Sturt University demonstrates the importance of the research presented in the Riverina Skills Study.”
The top five industries to report difficulties were accommodation and food services, agriculture, forestry and fishing, health care and social assistance, manufacturing, and professional, scientific and technical services, according to 78 per cent of respondents.
An average of 48 per cent of vacancies in the past 12 months were unable to be filled with hospitality workers, health professionals, farm, forestry and garden workers, engineering ICT and science technicians and design, engineering, science and transport professionals cited as being difficult to find.
Business owners believed the main reasons positions remained vacant was due to a lack of qualified or experienced candidates or candidates unwilling to live and work in regional areas.
Almost 80 per cent of respondents felt that soft skills, including communication, teamwork, people skills, time management and problem solving, were important when hiring new staff.
Participants felt a focus in the region needed to be placed on improved youth retention, education, training and upskilling, addressing the gender segregation of the workforce and utilising the skilled migrant workforce.
Managing Director of Proway Livestock Equipment Mr Paul Gianniotis was an industry participant in the study.
He said the value of the report is that it collects factual data from industries that indicates the challenges being faced by regional businesses in the Riverina.
“While the results of the report will be no surprise to those in industry, it clearly highlights where the issues are being experienced for a considerable time now and our proposals to resolve them,” he said.
Mr Gianniotis said he hopes private and public sectors use the findings of this study to enhance previous initiatives and implement new ones to address the skills shortage in the long term.
“The most challenging aspect of this exercise will be to act on the recommendations provided within the report,” he said.
“This report goes a long way towards making these next steps in this journey.”