BETTER co-ordination of big projects in the Riverina is needed to avoid a jobs, pricing and housing crisis, an industry report has concluded.
Down to the Wire: Managing the upcoming infrastructure workforce crunch in Riverina Murray has been compiled by Business NSW with the aim of ensuring benefits from major works are fully realised.
Business NSW regional manager Anthony McFarlane, one of the report's authors, cited major energy projects, such as Snowy 2.0 and interstate electricity connectors, as lacking alignment.
"While it is positive that this region is becoming a centre of excellence for renewable energy, we are concerned about the lack of co-ordination between these projects, which if left unmanaged will cause significant challenges for local communities and lead to further cost escalation and delays," Mr McFarlane said.
The report recommends a regional infrastructure co-ordinator general be appointed for the Riverina Murray.
That person would report to the NSW government, have oversight of new projects worth more than $10 million and require proponents to provide workforce requirements each quarter to help meet labour demands.
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The co-ordinator would also have the ability to commission studies on housing, support infrastructure, transport, equipment and other potential shortfalls.
With a labour shortage already apparent, there is a concern that will worsen in 2023-24 when the bulk of big projects will be at a peak.
Another priority mentioned in the report is the need for better vocational education.
It is noted that neither civil, mechanical or electrical engineering is offered at Albury-Wodonga's two university campuses.
"People interested in this field must move to another region to study, which comes at a cost and increases the likelihood of them permanently moving away from the region," the report stated.
It commended a cross border agreement which allowed for NSW apprentices to undertake TAFE courses in Victoria but noted more courses needed to be offered such as Certificate IV in Engineering Drafting.
Establishing a new TAFE-backed Institute of Applied Technology centred on infrastructure-related education in the Riverina Murray was proposed by Business NSW.
The report will be presented to Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW Paul Toole and his federal counterparts Catherine King and Kristy McBain.
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