Charles Sturt economists assist regional workforce planning

12 JULY 2019

Charles Sturt economists assist regional workforce planning

Charles Sturt University economists are examining how best to enhance industry development and employment growth in regional NSW and Victoria.

  • The research looked at elements in the local business environment that helped or hurt business and industry success
  • It identified a range of issues restraining development, and indicated the type of policies needed to support positive change
  • The researchers made several recommendations, including establishing a new body to improve regional economies

Charles Sturt University (Charles Sturt) economists are examining how best to enhance industry development and employment growth in regional NSW and Victoria.

Researchers in the Charles Sturt Institute for Land, Water and Society (ILWS) will undertake the Hume Region Workforce Development Plan Refresh for the Victorian Government’s Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions.

Recent research for the Murray region and the coming research for the Hume region by Professor John Hicks in the Charles Sturt School of Accounting and Finance and colleagues Professor Mark Morrison, Dr Tom Murphy and Dr Paul Forbes is underpinned by their wider research that examined how regional industries and employment growth can best be supported.

Professor Hicks said, “We looked at the questions that need to be asked in assessing the health of local business and industry, and indicated the type of policies that need to be adopted if positive change is to be achieved.”

Their analysis indicated that, in general, the regional economies have few export industries and those they have are in decline.

“There is little evidence that other industries are rising to take their place in terms of industries in which the regions can specialise,” Professor Hicks said.

“The links between businesses to generate more economic activity indicates that the decline in selling goods and services beyond the region, as well as internationally, is dragging down employment in linked industries.

“A significant proportion of the decline in export industries derives from the inability of the industries in the region to compete at the state level.”

Professor Hicks and his colleagues identified a number of issues holding back development:

  • Residents believe they have a comparative advantage in the very industries that are letting them down
  • A large number of business owners indicate they are most concerned with supplying the local community
  • There are few recognised entrepreneurs who can mentor start-ups, and emergent entrepreneurs
  • Business chambers are not present in all towns, and when they are present, they are not sufficiently involved in support activities
  • There is a lack of awareness of government training programs
  • Commercial business support services were lacking
  • Transport infrastructure is inadequate, and there is a lack of skilled workers
  • There is a scarcity of technical and managerial skills
  • There is a lack of entrepreneurial finance
  • There is no evidence of significant business social capital, nor of significant political capital for developing ‘entrepreneurial ecosystems’

The researchers made several recommendations:

  • Establish a new body to provide a regional economic development capacity
  • Address human capital constraints and develop social infrastructure
  • Develop business social capital, networks and business leaders
  • Encourage innovation and start-ups, and establish productive networks
  • Develop clusters and work to develop missing critical infrastructure
  • Develop social infrastructure

The three Charles Sturt research papers which inform this analysis are:

(2018) ‘Regional Economic Structure and the Potential for Change: A Case Study of LGAs in the Murray Region of New South Wales, Australia’. Paper presented to the Cambridge Business and Economic Conference 2-3 July, by John Hicks, Mark Morrison, Tom Murphy and Paul Forbes.

(2018) ‘An effectual leadership perspective for developing rural entrepreneurial ecosystems’, Small Business Economics by Morgan Miles and Mark Morrison, which can be accessed via:

(2019) ‘The importance of regional export development and a specialised local supply chain on the development of Australia’s regions’, Economic Papers, (DOI) - 10.1111/1759-3441.12238 (ABDC B 1402, 2013) by Tom Murphy, John Hicks, Mark Morrison, Parikshit Basu, and Danielle Ranshaw, which can be accessed via:

Media Note:

To arrange interviews with Professor John Hicks, contact Bruce Andrews at Charles Sturt Media on mobile 0418 669 362 or via

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