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Can’t find staff? They may have moved far away

Adam Zuchetti
Adam Zuchetti
07 February 2018 1 minute readShare
Binoculars, searching, isolated

The issue of housing affordability appears to have created a knock-on effect on employment, with a report suggesting key skills shortages are being exacerbated in our cities thanks to soaring house prices.

Unable to afford living in inner and middle ring suburbs of our major cities, “key workers” such as nurses, teachers and emergency services personnel are relocating to the fringes in droves, academics from Urban Housing Lab – part of the University of Sydney – have found.

In a report focused on Sydney and prepared by a coalition smaller banks and credit unions, it has been found that large numbers of these key workers now reside in outer areas like the Central Coast to the north, the Blue Mountains in the west and Sutherland (in the city’s far south).

Over the past decade, the Hunter Valley, Illawarra, Southern Highlands and Shoalhaven regions all experienced double-digit gains in the number of key workers. Yet city areas saw substantial declines over the period, demonstrating it is not simply population growth adding to overall worker numbers.

The largest fall was in Parramatta, where the number of key workers plummeted by 21.4 per cent. This was followed by the wealthy eastern suburbs (-15.2 per cent), inner south-west (-14.6 per cent) and Ryde in the north (-14.2 per cent).

Sydney is not alone in this trend, however, with the problem becoming all too apparent in cities around the world.

“Over the past decade, rising house prices and rents across Australia’s capital cities have made it more difficult for lower and middle income households, including key workers, to achieve home ownership,” said the report.

“Younger households aspiring to enter home ownership have been particularly affected in cities like Sydney and Melbourne where median house prices have more than doubled since 2006.”

The trend is unlikely to be limited to key workers, though, with all manner of lower paid professionals and workers facing the same affordability constraints.

As such, metropolitan-based businesses will be competing for a dwindling pool of local talent, and will increasingly face the burden of problems associated with workers undertaking long commutes, including tardiness and lower productivity.

Can’t find staff? They may have moved far away
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Adam Zuchetti
Adam Zuchetti

Adam Zuchetti is the former editor of MyBusiness and a senior freelance media professional, specialising in the fields of business, personal finance and property. In 2020, he also embarked on his own business journey – inspired in part by the entrepreneurs and founders he had met through his journalistic work – with the launch of customised pet gifting and subscription service Paws N’ All.

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