Media Release
Lack of global talent threatens Sydney’s booming city – new report
24 August, 2018

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Matt Levinson

Booming Sydney could be held back by a lack of skilled workers, especially in the city’s West, according to a new report.

The Committee for Sydney said that with major investment going in to high-skilled innovation precincts in Westmead, Liverpool and Macquarie Park, plus the recently announced Central to Eveleigh tech hub, the Committee warns that there could be a major shortfall in the number of people able to build – and work in – the new hubs.

With Sydney continuing to grow – and Western Sydney due to grow by 50% over the next 20 years – on current predictions there will not be enough skilled workers to fill roles in growth areas like advanced manufacturing, engineering, construction and financial services – and fewer people to train local workers.

The report, Making the Most of Our Talent, also says that while Sydney remains a popular place for skilled workers to come, a high cost of living, a lack of night-time activities and a bureaucratic visa regime are putting many talented employees from coming here and sending talented Australians abroad. 

It says that the Federal Government’s decision in 2017 to reform the Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457 visa) had created “uncertainty and a potential roadblock” to bringing talent to Australia.  It welcomes the introduction of the pilot Global Talent Visa, but warned it could create “an unnecessary burden of bureaucracy” and has called on the Federal Government to make a firm decision on the Visa’s long-term future. 

Research in the report suggestions that Sydney’s high cost of housing, lack of public transport and a perception that Sydney’s night-life is underperforming, is putting off bright, young workers who are choosing other global cities to work in.

The report argues:

“NSW’s journey from the worst performing state economy in the country, to now being the economic powerhouse of the nation, has coincided with a growth of global talent working in our state. This is not a coincidence. Global talent has not only filled gaps in skills, it has also helped to improve overall levels of skills in sectors across the state. The impact has largely been ‘win-win’.”

“Sydney’s future growth and prosperity relies heavily on the continued success of its professional and business services sectors, as well as new emerging tech sectors and other mainstays of the economy like construction, advanced manufacturing and engineering. The ability to tap into a pool of expertise from across the world is vital to all of these industries. To cut off the supply would risk Sydney and NSW going backwards.”

“This is particularly true for Western Sydney. The NSW Government, in partnership with the Greater Sydney Commission and local councils, have developed a strategic plan to transform the Central and Western Parkland cities into high-skilled, multi-industry precincts. Securing the right talent to build, live and work in these precincts will be crucial to their success. We have already seen the private sector and universities invest in their potential; it would be a tragedy if projects were compromised by the lack of available talent.”

Note to editors:

  1. The Committee for Sydney is an independent think tank and champion for the whole of Sydney, providing thought leadership beyond the electoral cycle. The Committee aims to enhance the economic, social, cultural and environmental conditions that make Sydney a competitive, resilient and liveable global city. The Committee has a diverse membership with over 150 member organisations: including the major corporate sectors driving Sydney’s economy; strategically minded local authorities; key NSW Government departments and agencies; not- for-profit organisations; and leading arts and sporting institutions. Members help develop and deliver priorities, provide expertise and ensure a representative geographical spread across the greater Sydney region.