An even brighter future
This 20-year plan focuses on economic growth that promotes wellbeing in regional communities. It maximises economies of scale in infrastructure and services, while minimising ‘big city’ characteristics of traffic congestion, pollution and affordability issues.1 Many regional centres have room to grow to a size that can bring benefits including greater cultural and leisure activities, knowledge economies, and more specialist goods and services, without compromising a sense of community and connectedness.
We envisage more employment opportunities in regional NSW, which in turn retains and attracts younger generations and creates sustainable, thriving regional cities and towns. We see our regions retaining their local identity, rather than becoming more like Sydney. Regional areas will offer valued alternatives to city living and connect via the hub-and-spoke model described in the Future Transport Strategy 2056.
Sustainable jobs growth will be supported by regions’ endowments, created or natural. Innovation in regional NSW will develop high-value service and commodity sectors to leverage cutting-edge technology. For example, NSW already has nascent industries working on generating and storing energy to meet our future needs. We also see opportunities for innovation on issues such as retaining experienced employees in the workforce for longer, and better connecting young regional people to the training, job exposure and mentorship that those experienced workers can provide.
How have we looked to the future?
We modelled two economic and demographic scenarios2 to see the outcomes of our 20-year vision for regional NSW. These were:
- Business as usual (BAU), based on current trajectories of economic growth
- A scenario based on the NSW Government applying this vision’s principles to guide economic development decisions.
We looked at trends observed in recent years and forecast using well-regarded economic modelling methodologies and population projections. However, we do not suggest regional NSW’s future is constrained by what happened previously, nor can we predict events of the next 20 years. However, based on what we know, there is a wealth of opportunities for regional NSW. Forethought and evidence-based decisions are needed to realise these opportunities.
For example, scenarios that could drive this growth are:
- investing in transport infrastructure to enable faster and more affordable business links to global supply chains to open new high-value export opportunities
- providing programs for faster and more reliable digital connectivity to complement the Australian Government’s National Broadband Network (NBN) rollout. This could increase uptake of tech-assisted production in sectors like agriculture
- prioritising skills and support programs to target youth unemployment in key sectors
- improving regulatory settings to encourage productivity.
The future this vision can deliver
We believe that applying these principles will result in higher population and jobs growth. Regional NSW is already forecast to grow by 620,000 people by 2038. However, our visionary approach could boost this by more than 185,000 extra people, so that the regional NSW population grows by close to a million people.
Additional jobs 2018–38
Source: NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet