Regional Australia: Is the grass really greener?

Posted May 15, 2014, by Julia Watters

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 68.4 per cent of the Australian population lives in major cities. That leaves just 19.7 per cent for inner regional areas, 9.5 per cent in outer regional areas and 1.5 per cent and 0.8 per cent in remote and very remote areas respectively.

With smaller populations, it should come as no surprise that regional areas are crying out for skilled workers. In fact, a recent Career FAQs article on skills shortages in Australia outlined what we all know: with more people to draw from, metro areas have significantly higher rates of both applicants and filled vacancies in the workforce when compared to regional areas.

Initiatives, such as the New South Wales Government’s Evocities project are designed to address just this problem. The Evocities project profiles the state’s bustling regional cities in order to entice urban dwellers to make the move, with the seven centres highlighted including Albury, Armidale, Bathurst, Dubbo, Orange, Tamworth and Wagga Wagga. Evocities’ latest statement outlines that the main professionals in demand for these areas are doctors, nurses, tradespeople and teachers.

the grass is greener

Evocities advertising campaign

According to recruitment data collected by Evocities, healthcare professionals are the most sought-after in these particular Evocities, accounting for 17 per cent of jobs advertised. This is closely followed by tradespeople (15 per cent), educators (14 per cent) and community welfare workers (9 per cent). This data is collected via EvoJobs, an online portal designed to connect job seekers with employers and recruitment agencies through free job advertisement opportunities.

And it’s not just these industries that are looking for workers. EvoJobs has recorded over 13,000 vacancies across its seven featured regional cities since 2010, many of which are from other industries such as the legal sector and technology companies. Evocities spokesperson James Treloar believes this emphasises that regional areas offer just as many, if not more, rewarding career options for job hunters:

‘We know through our research that one in four Sydneysiders would consider a move to an Evocity, chasing the lure of less traffic, a great lifestyle, affordable real estate and a welcoming community in which to raise a family. Holding many people back from making the move is a misguided perception that quality jobs don’t exist in regional areas. We know that 330 new jobs are being posted every week across our seven cities, the majority of which receive fewer applications than Sydney job vacancies, presenting an exciting opportunity for jobseekers.’

But you don’t just have to take Treloar’s word for it. Evocities has plenty of testimonials from people who have made the move and aren’t looking back. And before you go thinking that a regional move is reserved for families and those looking towards retirement, a fresh start might be suitable for any stage of life.

Kate Lawrence is a 27-year-old Italian teacher who admits Dubbo was not her first choice when looking to for a place settle, but decided to follow her partner who had seen the opportunity to move regionally and start his own kitchen renovation business:

‘In Sydney I would have been waiting 5–10 years before a permanent Italian job came up. Since arriving in Dubbo I have started a successful Italian program and have just returned from a school tour in Italy.’

Among the perks, Kate finds the low cost of living, the ease of getting to work and social outings at the top of her list. In fact, after only a year of renting in Dubbo, Kate and her partner were able to purchase their own apartment and are looking forward to continuing ‘making connections and developing a support network’ in their new home town.

The regional life isn’t just for tradies and teachers, though. Joshua Broad was working as an investment banker in Sydney when he and his wife, Gemma, a primary school teacher, decided to move out of the city when they were expecting their first child. The couple, in their early 30s, chose Albury as the place to start their new family but were concerned about missing friends and the excitement of big city living.

‘There are sacrifices that come with the move,’ they said. ‘But Albury is small enough to feel a part of a community yet big enough to be anonymous. It has most things you want in terms of health, entertainment and education – and accessibility to a major city – Melbourne’. Joshua now works as a financial planner and is enjoying a less stressful but equally challenging role in finance. They have recently bought a house and enjoy being able to spend more time with their baby, Beau, as a result of short commutes and community life.

So next time you’re sitting in gridlock traffic on your hour-long commute to work, remember there’s an alternative route that could get you to where you want to be faster. Whether you’re looking for new opportunities in your current profession or you want to explore other avenues by retraining, regional Australia could have just what you’re looking for.

Did you find greener pastures in regional Australia? Let us know about your experience in the comments below.

Thinking about going regional but worried about the opportunities for further study? Check out the hundreds of online courses you can do from anywhere in the country.

Julia Watters

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