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Diversification to produce jobs in emerging sectors for Western Australia

Curtin University’s Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre had recently released a report that maps a pathway for the State’s decision-makers to guarantee every Western Australian benefits from the opportunities presented by new and developing industries.

According to a recent press release, “Future-proofing the WA economy: A roadmap to industrial diversification and regional growth” shows that diversifying Western Australia’s economy to develop emerging sectors that include defence, big data, lithium and tourism would create more than 163,000 new jobs in the State.

It identified the State’s strengths and relationships across industries in WA and nationally.

Smart specialisation policy

From which, it recommends a ‘smart specialisation’ policy approach to target developing industries that would build on existing capabilities and expertise to grow the WA economy.

The WA economy has become increasingly concentrated and reliant on sectors such as mining, which makes it more volatile than any other state in Australia.

Despite the many economic benefits from the mining boom, it is important to identify new industries that can contribute to jobs growth.

By identifying new sectors that harness the State’s natural strengths, a more diverse WA economy could add 163,000 new jobs in the next five years, with more than 48,000 spread across WA’s regions.

It is critical to develop a broader industrial and regional strategy that would enable the State to:

  1. Capture the a wider diversity of opportunities
  2. Support sustained and inclusive growth
  3. Develop a more resilient state economy

Opportunities for growth in emerging sectors and industries have been identified. These industries include:

  1. Defence,
  2. Big Data
  3. Air and space technologies
  4. Lithium
  5. Rare earths
  6. Science research
  7. Tourism

The ‘smart specialisation’ policy approach is not about ‘picking winners’, but about identifying priority industries based on the strength and assets of a region.

The State Government’s target for jobs growth over the next five years is 150,000, with regional jobs growth of 30,000.

Diversification is key

The report has identified that both of these targets can be exceeded if smart decisions were made about the industry sectors targeted for diversification, and the services needed to support the growing population.

One of the most significant areas for further potential jobs growth is in the Peel region, especially in rail, boat and freight transport construction, scientific support, agriculture and food processing.

Meanwhile, the Gascoyne, Mid-West and Kimberley regions could benefit from the growing defence industry.

Additionally, many of WA’s regions are well-placed to expand scientific testing and analysis services industry, which is a key component of WA’s strengths in mining and agriculture.

The report findings had important implications for federal, state and local industry and government representatives who played a key role in attracting large-scale developments to Perth and regional areas.

By expanding into sectors in manufacturing, engineering design, data and information analytics, rail transport manufacturing, and construction services, almost 16,000 jobs could be generated, delivering AU$ 3.5 billion boost for the WA economy in Perth alone.

Ensuring that the barriers and enablers for job growth in both Perth and regional WA is understood is key to guaranteeing the economy continues to thrive, not only in the mining sector, but in all emerging and developing industries.

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