From time to time I have talked about the best way of attracting migrants to New England. These might come from other parts of Australia (internal migration) or from overseas. In this post, I want to focus on the attraction of overseas migrants.
New England now has some of the poorest towns and areas in Australia. This problem has emerged progressively over the last fifty years as our young have left to be replaced in many areas by in-migration of retirees or those on welfare. Our population is now older than the Australian average, in many areas unemployment is higher than average, we have seen a drift of higher paid jobs.
As in any geographically diverse area, the pattern is not uniform.
We have parts of New England on the North Coast that are now simply overpopulated relative to economic opportunities. We have inland areas where there are available jobs that cannot be filled, vacant jobs that are holding back employment growth by reducing income and activity.
Even on the coast, there are areas where the inability to attract people to fill vacancies is a problem.
One of the problems that I have talked about in public policy is the way we deal in very broad terms, universals, that actually prevent the targeting required to address needs that vary greatly across space and time.
To assist in resolving this, I suggest that one of the things that we need is a specific policy approach to address the workforce needs of inland New England. We need approaches that will bring trades and professionals to fill existing gaps.
At one level, this may seem that we are favouring coastal over inland New England. Yet the reality is different. Growth in inland New England can aid coastal development, can provide broader opportunities for coastal kids.
I mentioned overseas migrants my opening paragraph. One way of assisting inland New England would be to specifically target this in migration programs. Professionals or tradies prepared to settle in inland New England might receive preferential treatment.
We are not talking huge numbers. Even two hundred new settlers in any twelve months would, over a few years, make a huge continuing difference. Then the focus could switch to other areas.
What about it?