Friday, 23 August 2013 21:17

Briefing Paper - Jobs for Western Sydney

August, 2013

The need to generate enough jobs and the right type of jobs for its rapidly growing population is one of the greatest challenges facing Western Sydney.

Greater Western Sydney currently has a job deficit of around 180,000. That is, around 180,000 people each morning cram onto trains or sit on congested roads travelling out of the region for work, mainly to the east – to Sydney’s CBD, North Sydney or Macquarie Park.

This situation is set to get much worse. According to the Draft Metropolitan Strategy, 70% of Sydney’s population growth over the next two decades will be in Western Sydney, but only 50% of its new jobs. The population of Greater Western Sydney will rise by another 913,000 by 2021 but the number of jobs in the region will only rise by another 313,000 instead of the 437,500 needed. In other words, even if the targets are reached, Western Sydney’s job deficit will increase by another 120,000.

For more western Sydney commuters this means the financial burden of high transport costs and longer time away from families. For the city’s transport system, the implications are profound. An increase of over 60% in the number of people on our roads and trains in such a short time is unsustainable.

The other employment issue for Western Sydney is the need to diversify our job base, to generate more higher level professional jobs. Over 30% of all western Sydney's jobs are in manufacturing, retail, construction, transport and warehousing. Currently Western Sydney is seriously under-represented in professional employment opportunities, providing only 17% of Sydney's banking, finance and business services jobs, but almost 60% of its manufacturing jobs. This means that a large percentage of the growing number of graduates living in Western Sydney need to look elsewhere for suitable work.

There is no easy solution to these issues but they must be made a higher priority for both state and federal governments.

The NSW Government’s focus on Western Sydney Employment Lands is helpful and the recent release of its Draft Structure Plan for the release of another 6,000 hectares is a recognition of the need. However, unless more determined and coordinated efforts are made to service and to provide the supporting transport infrastructure for these, the take-up will be very slow. A starting point needs to be the servicing of already released employment lands. Of over 3,000 ha of existing undeveloped employment lands, less than 900 ha are serviced and ready for development.

However, even if fully supported by the necessary infrastructure, employment lands are not a panacea for the problem. Employment lands generally focus largely on manufacturing, warehousing and logistics with job densities of less than 20 per hectare. A much greater effort is needed if they are to provide the higher technology and employment jobs needed in the region.

The other component is the need to revitalise and stimulate many of Western Sydney’s key commercial centres. The rapid growth we are seeing in Parramatta, Sydney’s second CBD, needs as far as possible to be replicated in other designated centres such as Liverpool and Penrith and others in the region which are on major public transport links. This needs increased government focus, including the relocation of key government agencies to strategic non-CBD centres and other policies to assist urban renewal and regeneration.

A fuller discussion of these issues is contained in WSROC’s response to the Draft Metropolitan Strategy and the Broader Western Sydney Employment Area Draft Structure Plan.

In short, a whole-of-government approach is needed at the state level and much greater attention at the federal level if inroads are to be made into Western Sydney’s employment challenge. This is vital, not just for the residents of western Sydney but for the productivity and liveability of the whole of Sydney.

Last modified on Tuesday, 05 November 2013 11:32