March 2021 Update from the President

Business activity across most of our South West community continues to grow each month as the ongoing economic stimulus and the start of major infrastructure projects take effect. Easing of the restricted inter-state travel regimes, coupled with a surge in regional travel across WA has also had a positive impact on our retail and hospitality sectors. It has been very encouraging to see visitors enjoying our enviable lifestyle and attractions while supporting our regional towns and community businesses. I have even heard a few complaints from our locals about not being able to find a parking space outside or within reach of their favourite establishments. Long may it last!

This increased regional economic activity coupled with the loss of seasonal workers has had a significant impact on our ability to meet the skilled workers demand across several of our industries. While the focus on training and skill development has been dramatically ramped up, we are still struggling to find candidates to fill available training roles. There has been a concerted effort by all the training, recruitment and job active service providers working together with our Regional Chambers and both Federal and State agencies to address these labour and training shortages. Our ability to meet the demands of this post Covid economic stimulus and deliver the required resources will continue to challenge us in the foreseeable future as there is still a significant pipeline of work to be delivered over the next three years.

Another area of concern is the shortage of accommodation and residential housing stock across our region with both the rental and purchase markets having limited availability to meet the ever-increasing demand. The demand for building and construction workers as well as key trade skills has outstripped our ability to supply and has spurned a significant increase in our apprentice and training delivery across these sectors.

Whilst this may sound a little daunting, we still consider ourselves extremely fortunate to have survived the COVID trauma and be in the position that we are in, in comparison to so many of our neighbouring economies that are still suffering the severe impacts of this dreadful pandemic.

The South West, in particular the Bunbury Geographe sub-region has an enviable lifestyle and an ideal environment to live and work in!  We all need to be positive and work together to overcome the challenges that exist and make the most of the economic opportunities that we have been presented with to ensure our Regional prosperity.

 

Robert Skipsey

President BGCCI

March 2021

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