Attracting and retaining mobile skilled workers: benefits for rural communities

Document Type

Conference publication

Publication details

Vitartas, P, Kilpatrick, S, Johns, S & Homisan, M 2009, 'Attracting and retaining mobile skilled workers: benefits for rural communities', in P Waterman & K Charters (eds) New frontiers for regional development : SEGRA 2009 Conference Proceedings, Kalgoorlie-Boulder, WA, October 27-29, SEGRA.

Published version of this paper is available at http://www.segra.com.au/segra_papers.html

Peer Reviewed



Today’s rural workforce is highly mobile. GPs, teachers and administrators no longer spend their working lives in one country town. In addition a range of groups such as sea/tree changers, seasonal workers, executive staff suffering from high levels of stress and ‘grey nomads’ are moving to rural areas, often only to move on again after a few years. Other factors, such as the resources boom, changing industrial laws and the economic crisis have also had an impact on the availability of highly skilled workers to practice in rural commuities. Work by Florida (2003) on the Creative Class suggests regions should try to target people such as professionals to come and live and work because of their ability to boost economic activity, but there is no research on capturing advantages from highly skilled people who transit through communities and regions. This paper presents preliminary findings from a research project on the benefits to rural communities of mobile skilled workers. A case study approach was adopted, with the current findings based on three sites in Australia, one each from Queensland, New South Wales and Tasmania. The preliminary findings presented here have identified a number of benefits flowing from the presence of mobile skilled workers that cover social, economic and environmental factors. The practical implications of these findings are discussed as they apply to Australia and beyond.