North Coast in midst of jobs boom

FIGURES released this week by the NSW Minister for Rural Affairs, Tony Kelly show 15,400 extra jobs were created on the North Coast in the 2006/07 financial year.

Mr Kelly released the North Coast Regional Delivery Update for 2008 at a function in Ballina on Monday.

Very little detail was provided as to where the extra jobs had been created, however the document identified skills shortages in the areas of the aged care, health, metal fabrication, construction, planning and engineering sectors as future challenges for the region.

The update is part of the NSW State Plan which sets priorities and targets for the government to achieve as part of their 10 year vision for the state.

Figures for the Richmond - Tweed area showed employment growth has increased significantly in the 06/07 year to well above both the state and the regional NSW average. Not surprisingly the unemployment rate fell considerably in the same period.

Mr Kelly also released the Regional Business Growth Plan for the Northern Rivers, which anticipates a population growth of 60,400 by the year 2031.

That would represent an overall increase of 26 per cent in population from 2006-2031.

The growth plan estimates 32,500 new jobs will need to be created to meet the projected population increase, with more than two thirds of those jobs expected to be in the service and construction industries.

It anticipates 232 hectares of addition industrial and commercial land will be required to allow the jobs growth and calls on local councils to identify possible areas through their local environmental plans.

One industry that did get singled out as a growth area was the creative arts. The report said 7500 people, or 6.2 per cent of the region's workforce was working in the field, an increase of 100 per cent since the year 2000.

It estimated the economic value of the creative industries to the region was $190 million, with the screen industry sector worth $40 million.

The growth plan estimates another 1000 jobs will be created in the creative industries by 2010 and supports the development of the Northern Rivers Visual Arts Network and the music sector. It also recommends the development of a regional festival and events facility in Byron Shire and the development of the e-commerce capability of the Northern Rivers Conservatorium Arts Centre.

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