Mount Isa is in a labour shortage with more than 600 local positions available across many industries and trades, the local chamber of commerce has said.
Commerce North West president Travis Crowther is calling on state and federal government to support Outback Queensland with incentives to entice workers and families to move into regional areas like Mount Isa.
"We need better tax reliefs and remote area incentives, including relocation allowances to help ease the pressure business and industry are currently facing," Mr Crowther said.
"Mount Isa does not want fly-in, fly-out roles, but this is the reality when there are no workers on the ground.
"Our region contributes billions in royalties to the state and nowhere near enough is fed back to invest and develop better liveability, sustainability and lifestyle projects".
The labour shortage spans from the manufacturing, mining and building industry and government and private business sectors.
Satintouch Mount Isa Operations Manager, Jeremy Burns said their industrial coatings and surface preparation industry was experiencing high demand for services.
"While this is fantastic for business we are straining to meet demand due to the difficulty in filling our skilled-labour vacancies, such as industrial painters and blasters, and HR drivers," Mr Burns said.
Brett Moore, Operations Manager at HardRok Engineering said they are receiving many enquiries for manufacturing, conveyor and rubber lining projects in the region.
"While we have a policy preference of employing local labour, we are experiencing difficulty in sourcing local fabrication boilermakers, rubber liners and fitters and may have to consider advertising to the FIFO market," Mr Moore said.
Local Scaffolding business MC Scaffolds has a policy that aims to employ Mount Isa residents only but Business Manager Narelle Crocket admits they find it hard to fill non-FIFO positions.
"It is becoming increasingly difficult to source workers who are local, or who are willing to relocate to Mount Isa," Ms Crocket said.
"We are lucky to have a team of predominately family men, whose children go to school and play sports here. They have embraced the city and all it has to offer and are contributing back into the local community.
"Our employees enjoy a five minute drive to work each day, no traffic to contend with, no rainy days off, and they get to see their families every night."
Mount Isa City Council is feeling the shortage too. Council CEO Sharon Ibardolaza said they were trying to fill specialist fields locally with a plumber vacancy advertised for over five months.
"Council often struggle to fill recruitment voids particularly in technical and specialist positions. We are also experiencing difficulty in attracting trade based employees," Ms Ibardolaza said.
"We rely on labour hire on occasion, but this is not our preferred method of recruitment."
Ms Ibardolaza said they were looking at changes in policies and procedures to attract more staff, and roll out campaigns such as the City of Opportunity to highlight liveability and encourage people to consider the lifestyle Mount Isa can offer.
Elva Metcalf, Manager for Mount Isa Youth Justice Service Centre, said they had opportunities for people willing to make the move, but they faced challenges faced filling positions as education requirements in the youth justice field are not available locally.
"Working in Youth Justice can be a challenging yet rewarding career, and working in rural and remote areas provides opportunities not readily available in an urban centre," Ms Metcalf said.
"We have had difficulty over the years recruiting and retaining Professional Officer stream employees into local positions. Locals interested in the human services field must leave the area to continue their education, adding limitations to building a sustainable workforce within the region."
State Member for Traeger Robbie Katter said he wanted larger business to be held accountable for employing locally and proposes offering a penalty and reward system for adhering to legislation requirements.
"Pressure from local Councils and State Government needs to be put back onto these big mining companies to declare and report on their workforce, ensuring our jobs are staying local," Mr Katter said.
But Mr Crowther said politicians needed to do more.
"State Government should start investing more money and time back into back into regional areas, so that people want to relocate in-land," Mr Crowther said.
"It's time for both the Member for Traeger and the Queensland State Government to start taking action instead of blaming everyone else and asking big business for support.
To find our more on positions available in and around Mount Isa, please head to a local employment agency or contact Commerce North West at firstname.lastname@example.org
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