EMPLOYMENT - Illawarra Over The Next 20 Years
Finding one job in the Illawarra might be hard, but a NSW government discussion paper states the region needs to find more than 24,000 of them.
According to the Illawarra Over The Next 20 Years discussion paper, 24,250 new jobs will need to be found in the next two decades to provide for the expected population increase.
By 2031 it is thought that 340,400 people will be living in the Illawarra, up from 288,100 in 2011.
That jobs figure takes into account those leaving the workforce due to an ageing population.
The regional director for the southern region for Planning NSW, Brett Whitworth, admitted that finding those jobs would be "a fairly significant challenge".
"It's also going to be a challenge to make sure they're the sorts of jobs that are appropriate for the people in the region," Mr Whitworth said.
"This is part of that commuting equation that we have. There's a very high rate of commuting to Sydney and the discussion paper recognises that. It also recognises that you can't switch off that commuting tap, and nor should you because it's appropriate that there are people whose professions are such that they need to commute. But what we want to do is ensure there are appropriate jobs in the Illawarra."
The 24,250 jobs figure includes an "aspirational reduction" in the jobless rate to see it become consistent with the state average. At present the region's jobless rate is, on average, 2 per cent higher than the state average.
The discussion paper suggests that most of the new jobs that will be created over the next 20 years will be in the region's existing employment sectors, which include the port of Port Kembla, the University of Wollongong and Innovation Campus and the Wollongong CBD.
The Shellharbour city centre and Dapto have also been identified as likely to become increasingly important locations of new jobs.
Though Mr Whitworth admitted NSW Planning couldn't create the jobs, it could identify the areas where those jobs would come from and then ensure that there was enough appropriately zoned land to allow for the creation of those jobs.
"If we assume half of the 24,250 jobs will be in retail, do we have enough retail space - physically zoned land - for retail that we could meet the demand for those jobs? Do we have enough land zoned for heavy industry, light industry or general industry?"