The latest data from the Regional Australia Institute showed that job vacancies rose to 84,600 in April 2022—up by nearly 25 percent from the year prior.
This figure also exceeds the peaks of the 2011 mining boom, which saw job vacancies at 60,000, reported The Guardian.
Top growth spots, according to the data, were scattered across the nation in South Australia, Northern Territory, Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, and Queensland.
Outback Queensland saw the most significant jump in vacancies with a jump of 59.1 percent for April 2022, with Geelong and the Surf Coast seeing the next biggest growth of 54 percent.
Professional roles made up 24 percent of all vacancies in April, followed by technicians and trades roles (16 percent) and clerical and administrative roles (14 percent).
Nationally, job vacancies in February 2022 were 86 percent higher than in February 2020, prior to the start of the pandemic, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
Liz Ritchie, CEO of the Regional Australia Institute, said professional jobs in health, legal and engineering services were consistently at the top of the job vacancies, particularly as businesses seek to grow and scale across regional Australia, reported The Guardian.
However, outback Queensland also had the highest unemployment rate of 14.6 percent.
Chair of the Ag Business Committee for Ag Force, Mark Collins, said he was not surprised by the figures but blamed the shortage of skilled workers in outback Queensland on the state government’s closure of agricultural colleges in 2019 and a decade ago, reported The Guardian.
“There’s nowhere to train young people for a future in agriculture,” Collins said, reported The Guardian.
“At a farm level, that’s a problem, and then you can’t find truck drivers with good enough skills to take our cattle to be processed … and then at that next level at a meatworks or even at a grain handling facility, they can’t find anyone.”
Ritchie said Queensland’s high job vacancy and unemployment rates highlighted the need for skills to be aligned with work available, adding that the similar rates in the region were due to the smaller job numbers, reported The Guardian.
But by comparison, Geelong and the Surf Coast were “tier-two cities” and had the fastest growth rates in the country, with Geelong on the rise due to high population migration.
But finding the right housing for potential employees remains a problem, Ritchie said.
“Not just in Geelong but right across the country in regional Australia, housing approvals and construction have not kept pace with population growth in our regions,” Ritchie said.
The new federal Labor government has promised more funding to create jobs in regional Australia, such as creating 465,000 new fee-free TAFE places in areas of demonstrated labour shortage. Federal Labor has also promised to assist 10,000 families in regional Australia to purchase their first home.
According to another report by the Regional Australia Institute, Australia’s rural and regional population grew by an average of 76,500 people per annum in the decade to 2020.
The ABS recorded the highest net inflow of Australians moving to regional areas during the pandemic, with regional Queensland having the biggest net inflow (17,000 people) of all the states, followed by regional areas of Victoria (13,400) and New South Wales (12,700).