Councils need to ramp up knowledge economy

AS businesses in the Shoalhaven continue to highlight the struggle they have with internet connections, a local government report has underlined how vital that type of technology is to the future of regional areas.

The Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) annual State of the Region’s Report predicts the gap between the prosperity of Australia’s regional areas will widen unless there is a concerted injection of infrastructure investment.

The report said as the mining boom continues to slow, a focus on the growth of innovative, creative and entrepreneurial goods and services will play a more important role.

Dr Ian Manning from National Economics said the future need was not only about major infrastructure but investment in telecommunications and activities that support growth and development of the “knowledge economy”.

“Investment in rural and regional development cannot be thought of in isolation,” he said.

Creating opportunities in all regions was also highlighted as an important factor in addressing youth unemployment. 

The report described mixed fortunes for the nation’s young job seekers.

It found that in most regions youth employment prospects were bleak. An increasing number of young people have found themselves in a void between education and employment, participating in neither.

The report argued that the idea of relocating young people to regions where work was available needs to be rethought as there were already many young people unemployed in these regions.

ALGA president Mayor Felicity-Ann Lewis put the onus on local government to step up and create more opportunities for employment.

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