Hunter youth brain drain: poll


Summary

NOVOCASTRIANS, talk up your town and do your bit to entice enterprise to the region.
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That’s the message from key Newcastle business figures in response to the stark warning from Hunter-raised university graduate Matthew Endacott that the region’s youth ‘‘brain drain’’ is continuing unabated due to a lack of business diversification and employment opportunities.

Mr Endacott says that while business accelerator Slingshot and the upcoming design, interactive technology and green tech (DiG) festival are helping cement Newcastle as a ‘‘start-up city’’, a more unified effort is required to spruik its wider potential.

Urging Newcastle City Council to show more leadership and residents to ‘‘create more noise’’, he has also called on businesses to form a ‘‘one-stop-shop’’ offering pro-bono or cheap advice to entrepreneurs considering moving to the region.

‘‘If nothing else it’s a tangible, visible attempt at doing something as opposed to just saying ‘why not come to Newcastle, the rent is cheap’,’’ he said.

‘‘And in a best-case scenario, businesses and jobs would be created, and those companies who give their time will get long-term clients.’’

Mr McCloy, who has met Mr Endacott numerous times, said the graduate exodus could be stemmed by boosting the city’s population with more high-density living, encouraging government departments to relocate their operations to the region and building a new university in the CBD.

He said council was playing a role by pushing through development applications ‘‘quickly and properly’’.

‘‘There is an air of optimism out there, you only have to look at the wine bars and coffee shops popping up, you’d think there would be saturation but they all seem pretty full – vibrancy is returning,’’ he said.

Brendan Brooks, the president of digital industry taskforce Hunter DiGit, supported Mr Endacott’s concerns, saying councils and business chambers must be more pro-active.

‘‘Traditional organisations need to be thinking about the future businesses we need in the city, because while it’s one thing to build another coal-loader, it’s another to attract another Slingshot or to build a tech business park that will inspire kids at school to choose a career path here,’’ he said.

Mr Brooks has better insight than most to the concerns of graduates.

Raised in Kurri Kurri, he worked as a fitter and turner before completing a Bachelor of Arts in Sydney and returning to his home town, where he struggled to land a job.

Eventually finding work through the Business Enterprise Centre, he taught himself to build websites before starting his firm HyperWeb Communications.

Hunter Young Professionals vice-president David Clark, a logistics superintendent at OneSteel Tube Mills in Mayfield, said graduates were finding it harder than ever to find jobs, with business confidence low following the peak of the resources boom.

‘‘I’ve known people are doing unpaid work to get their foot in the door, many sectors are cutting costs to free up cash for future investment – there’s just no fat in business,’’ he said.

DiG festival co-founder Craig Wilson said councils could follow the lead of some of their counterparts in North America who had allowed local entrepreneurs to use their facilities as ‘‘urban laboratories’’ to test new clean tech, sustainability and mobility technologies.

‘‘Councils have a lot of data and infrastructure that they could put in the hands of innovative thinkers to create better solutions,’’ he said.

‘‘They can be trial concepts but whole industries can spin from them.’’

Jenny Roberts, an economist at project management firm ADW Johnson, said anecdotal evidence of the brain drain was supported by 2011 census figures showing that Newcastle performed above the state and national average in retaining 20- to 24-year-olds but dropped right back in the 25-34 age bracket.

Ms Roberts says ways to keep younger working professionals in town included changing the HECS system to offer discounts to those who study and remain in Newcastle and updating planning regulations to speed up large developments.

‘‘If government policy is to grow centres like Newcastle it’s not just about planning structure, it’s about putting their money where their mouth is on where their own people work,’’ she said.

Mrs Roberts said she sent 20 emails to ‘‘big corporate clients’’ after the NSW budget, telling them of the millions earmarked for the Hunter.

‘‘It’s that kind of selling the good news from business to business that helps.’’


NOVOCASTRIANS, talk up your town and do your bit to entice enterprise to the region.
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That’s the message from key Newcastle business figures in response to the stark warning from Hunter-raised university graduate Matthew Endacott that the region’s youth ‘‘brain drain’’ is continuing unabated due to a lack of business diversification and employment opportunities.

Mr Endacott says that while business accelerator Slingshot and the upcoming design, interactive technology and green tech (DiG) festival are helping cement Newcastle as a ‘‘start-up city’’, a more unified effort is required to spruik its wider potential.

Urging Newcastle City Council to show more leadership and residents to ‘‘create more noise’’, he has also called on businesses to form a ‘‘one-stop-shop’’ offering pro-bono or cheap advice to entrepreneurs considering moving to the region.

‘‘If nothing else it’s a tangible, visible attempt at doing something as opposed to just saying ‘why not come to Newcastle, the rent is cheap’,’’ he said.

‘‘And in a best-case scenario, businesses and jobs would be created, and those companies who give their time will get long-term clients.’’

Mr McCloy, who has met Mr Endacott numerous times, said the graduate exodus could be stemmed by boosting the city’s population with more high-density living, encouraging government departments to relocate their operations to the region and building a new university in the CBD.

He said council was playing a role by pushing through development applications ‘‘quickly and properly’’.

‘‘There is an air of optimism out there, you only have to look at the wine bars and coffee shops popping up, you’d think there would be saturation but they all seem pretty full – vibrancy is returning,’’ he said.

Brendan Brooks, the president of digital industry taskforce Hunter DiGit, supported Mr Endacott’s concerns, saying councils and business chambers must be more pro-active.

‘‘Traditional organisations need to be thinking about the future businesses we need in the city, because while it’s one thing to build another coal-loader, it’s another to attract another Slingshot or to build a tech business park that will inspire kids at school to choose a career path here,’’ he said.

Mr Brooks has better insight than most to the concerns of graduates.

Raised in Kurri Kurri, he worked as a fitter and turner before completing a Bachelor of Arts in Sydney and returning to his home town, where he struggled to land a job.

Eventually finding work through the Business Enterprise Centre, he taught himself to build websites before starting his firm HyperWeb Communications.

Hunter Young Professionals vice-president David Clark, a logistics superintendent at OneSteel Tube Mills in Mayfield, said graduates were finding it harder than ever to find jobs, with business confidence low following the peak of the resources boom.

‘‘I’ve known people are doing unpaid work to get their foot in the door, many sectors are cutting costs to free up cash for future investment – there’s just no fat in business,’’ he said.

DiG festival co-founder Craig Wilson said councils could follow the lead of some of their counterparts in North America who had allowed local entrepreneurs to use their facilities as ‘‘urban laboratories’’ to test new clean tech, sustainability and mobility technologies.

‘‘Councils have a lot of data and infrastructure that they could put in the hands of innovative thinkers to create better solutions,’’ he said.

‘‘They can be trial concepts but whole industries can spin from them.’’

Jenny Roberts, an economist at project management firm ADW Johnson, said anecdotal evidence of the brain drain was supported by 2011 census figures showing that Newcastle performed above the state and national average in retaining 20- to 24-year-olds but dropped right back in the 25-34 age bracket.

Ms Roberts says ways to keep younger working professionals in town included changing the HECS system to offer discounts to those who study and remain in Newcastle and updating planning regulations to speed up large developments.

‘‘If government policy is to grow centres like Newcastle it’s not just about planning structure, it’s about putting their money where their mouth is on where their own people work,’’ she said.

Mrs Roberts said she sent 20 emails to ‘‘big corporate clients’’ after the NSW budget, telling them of the millions earmarked for the Hunter.

‘‘It’s that kind of selling the good news from business to business that helps.’’