By KAY EADE
The Executive Officer of the Chamber of Commerce NT takes a look at what works and what doesn’t in our town’s economy. She is writing in our Rest & Reflection series to which we have asked people to contribute who make a difference to The Alice.
The year 2016 began with businesses in the regions doing it tough. Uncertainty can cause problems for business owners, as it is hard to plan for staffing levels if you don’t know what’s on the horizon.
Staffing is the biggest issue for employers in Alice Springs, and most resort to attracting skilled staff from overseas. Why is it so hard to get skilled workers in Alice (or any NT regional town)? Why can’t we attract them?
The Chamber has participated in many workers expos around Australia, especially in towns where large manufacturing plants were closing, trying to entice the workers to the Territory. However, it seems family has a stronger pull than experiencing a new adventure in another state or territory.
Businesses have more luck in attracting migrant workers. This practice has two beneficial outcomes: The first is giving the business confidence of knowing they have the worker for a certain period of time. The second is, they often bring their families which enriches the multi cultural fabric of our community.
The construction industry is still struggling with the Indigenous participation on construction projects policy.
While most appreciate the sentiment and reasoning behind the policy, consultation and execution of the policy was poor. Trying to attract and retain 30% Indigenous employment on a project is proving to be difficult for most businesses. And the costs associated with training and compliance — red tape – are high.
KPMG was eventually contracted to consult with industry on their concerns and it will be interesting to hear what their findings and recommendations are.
The previous government handed down a very generous budget for business in May, and the most welcoming scheme was the “tradies scheme”.
It gave consumers the opportunity of doing home maintenance and renovations at a discounted rate, and the small businesses reaped the rewards.
Not long after the scheme was announced, Alice experienced freak hail storms which caused widespread damage to businesses and residential properties.
Assessors were flown in to provide recommendations for insurance purposes, and this provided another source of work for the trades.
The new government has reintroduced an incentive for first home buyers which are now given the housing market a nudge. Hopefully this will entice the younger families to implant their roots in Alice.
This incentive also opens up opportunities for the small business tradies, renovating the older homes.
When you think about all the risks associated with running a business, I often wonder why they do it!
There’s compliance, the fair work act, legislation, staff, rent, long hours, no work life balance and the risk of failure! There is so much more to lose when you are the top dog.
You have the threat of losing your business, your house, your income, as well as carrying the guilt of sacking staff who are relying on you for their income to support their families.
There are businesses that have done the hard yards, and are now reaping the rewards, but I still see businesses who struggle every day. All I can say is, hats off to all of you!
You are the people who hire and train our children, keep our economy going, and give the community of Alice Springs the services and lifestyle we have come to enjoy.
Wishing everyone a most prosperous 2017!
By KAY EADE