THE Sunshine Coast can look forward to a positive 2018 with good growth stories in tourism, health, education and construction.
That was a key conclusion from the Sunshine Coast Business Council Strategic Direction Discussion held at Marcoola this week.
Local government representatives joined with leaders from the Sunshine Coast property, business, tourism and education sectors to discuss the future prosperity of the region.
Sunshine Coast Business Council chair Sandy Zubrinich said the event had considered investment, infrastructure and regional job growth opportunities, and also explored transport initiatives, the economic impact of the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC), challenges to employment and how best to address regional issues at a State and Federal level.
"While there were some concerns raised regarding sluggishness in the retail sector, largely, sentiment is positive for the year ahead," Ms Zubrinich said.
"There have certainly been plenty of good growth stories in the tourism, health, education and construction sectors; however, one of the major discussion points was that each of these areas is experiencing skill shortages."
"While the proposed opening of an Australian Industry Trade College on the Sunshine Coast in 2019 will help to address the issue in the future, and TAFE is already addressing the shortage of skills through their courses, it will be beneficial to gain more insight into where these gaps lie so they can be addressed appropriately."
"Both Sunshine Coast Council and Noosa Council are working with TAFE Queensland East Coast, USC and industry groups to better understand where the shortages are occurring so they can plan for the future."
Ms Zubrinich said there was still some concern around youth unemployment, and widespread agreement that more needed to be done to connect youth into the growing employment opportunities on the Sunshine Coast.
"One suggestion was to strengthen an appetite and enthusiasm for entrepreneurship among the Sunshine Coast's youth population, and use this work to establish new, innovative businesses locally, or to bolster employee numbers within the region's existing small businesses," Ms Zubrinich said.
"Generation Innovation is an example of this but more can be achieved to connect youth."
"Further to this, it is important that as a region, we are investing in programs that support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and start-up businesses as a means of helping to stimulate economic growth and job opportunities."
Ms Zubrinich said transport infrastructure projects were once again placed on the agenda, noting that a rapid mass transport solution linking Sunshine Coast communities with Brisbane was considered the highest infrastructure priority for the Sunshine Coast.
"The North Coast Connect Project is in the privileged position of being the only Queensland project shortlisted to potentially win federal government business case funding, and we are looking forward to finding out the three successful national projects, which will be announced later this month," she said.
"This infrastructure would not only benefit the region, but also present significant advantages to the more than one million people living in proximity to the North Coast Line."
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