Labour hire in the Western Downs region has been booming over the past few years, and renewable energy jobs have kept pace with the influx of workers. As of 2016, there were 639 jobs in the labour hire industry, up from 593 in 2015 and 525 in 2014, according to recent data from the Department of Employment and Training Queensland . Several factors are driving growth in this field. First, a large portion of current labour hire employees are nearing retirement age, creating openings for younger workers to fill these roles.
We interviewed Robyn from the Chinchilla Community Commerce and Industry to give us some insight into the Western Downs region and it's new renewable energy focus.
1) The Western Downs is quickly becoming the Energy Capital of Australia.
Robyn from Chinchilla Community Commerce and Industry says "That is definitely a title we like to claim. and it's definitely true. So there's a lot of energy here. So we've got our more established industries of CSG, and there's some gas fired power stations here. And the infrastructure that they've bought with them has then allowed us to support our growing solar projects, and more recently some wind projects. So there's a lot of diversity in the energy sector here, and we like to think we deserve that title. So our claim to fame about being the energy capital is based on the diversity of energy industries based here in the region. And from an economic point of view, that's a great thing to have. Diversity gives us some security. So if one section is not doing well, we've got other sections that hopefully are doing better at the same time, and the investment that the CSG industry made in the infrastructure that we have had here since the early, well, 2010s has allowed it to be a really appealing place for the other energy projects to go ahead. So we've got good power line infrastructure for these projects to link into. We've got good roads, we've got communities with businesses that are skilled and professional that can deliver the type of support those projects needs to go ahead and be completed."
2) With these projects offering short and long term employment opportunities, what is the job market like in the Western Downs due to these investments?
"So the Western Downs and the wider Surat Basin are in quite a strong position in terms of job opportunities. There's a range of projects going ahead at the moment. The region is quite busy, and our unemployment here is actually very low. So skilled workers and people that are looking for jobs are really welcome here, and we definitely need those people. We need more workers in the region. There's a lot of opportunities, and people are competing against each other to secure good staff. So we're definitely on the lookout for those people, and there'll be warmly welcomed."
3) What renewable energy projects are in the pipeline?
"So the Western Downs has more than 20 DA approved solar projects and several wind projects. Currently, we have in this solar space, we have a handful that are underway or have been completed. So that leaves the vast majority of those projects still to happen in the region, and the wind is starting to progress as well. So the Dulacca wind farm is moving ahead, and there's another one in the pipeline too."
4) Why is Chinchilla a great place to live?
"So Chinchilla is uniquely positioned as a regional town where we have a lot of investment in our community ongoing. I think there's a perception that regional towns are stale and nothing much happens. That anybody who lives here and is invested in the community would feel that's very far from the truth. Our council has, at the beginning of COVID, made huge investment in projects in the region. So a $50 million investment in ensuring that our economy remained strong. Of that, some where big local infrastructure projects."
Looking to get into the renewable energy game? Now is the time! Keep up to date with our current vacancies here: https://www.haynesgroup.com.au/work-with-us
Visit the Chinchilla Community Commerce and Industry for more information: https://chinchilla.com.au/