LOOKING TO 2021: Dalby Chamber of Commerce president Rohan May and Western Downs Regional Council mayor Paul McVeigh. Picture: Sam Turner
LOOKING TO 2021: Dalby Chamber of Commerce president Rohan May and Western Downs Regional Council mayor Paul McVeigh. Picture: Sam Turner

Dalby businesses to struggle hiring in the year ahead

EMPLOYMENT, telecommunications, and a volunteer shortage were among the concerns identified by Dalby’s Chamber of Commerce for the next 12 months.

The Year Ahead Dinner on September 16 discussed the advantages and potential disadvantages Dalby could face in the next 12 months.

Chamber president Rohan May didn’t mince words in his opening address, discussing the unprecedented year they’ve had.

“All of our businesses have changed, moving to home delivery, takeaway and online, they’ve all adapted,” he said.

“However we need to realise that we can’t just wait until January of next year for this to be over.

“This doesn’t have an expiration date.”

In his discussions with state members and other business industry bodies in Queensland, Mr May wanted to stress how well the Western Downs had done to rally against the economic pressures of coronavirus.

He acknowledged the strong state of the manufacturing and agricultural industry following the pandemic, as well as the much needed aid from the Western Downs Regional Council to local businesses.

Mr May cited the region’s low unemployment rate of 3.6 per cent, compared to Queensland’s 8.8 per cent, and even Wide Bay’s of almost 11 per cent.

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Even with this, he stated businesses were now encountering a hiring crisis, with statistics surrounding wage subsidies showing 2,330 people applying Jobkeeper between April and May.

“Our low unemployment rate shows how well placed we are, but it does present challenges.

“We’re finding it more difficult to attract staff, and that’s something we’re going to encounter.

“In fact, most businesses are already there, particularly in some of the higher tier, and vocational trade jobs.”

The sporadic loss of telecommunications in the Western Downs town angered business owners, with Mr May saying outages like these were “unacceptable”.

“It’s unacceptable in 2020 for it to take businesses six weeks to get a phone line,” he said.

“It’s unacceptable for an entire town to go without internet for a day.

“It’s how our customers find us, and how they pay us, and that is something the Chamber will advocate for in 2021.”

The business group then anticipated a sharp decline in volunteer numbers as events start once again in Dalby.

“Volunteers in 2021 will be the biggest potential risk for this town and region, with people falling out of the habit of going to the show society, or to the P & C,” he said.

“What’s going to happen when the volunteer base isn’t there?

“We need to give as much time as we can, and spare a thought for those communities groups if that starts to happen.”

Mayor Paul McVeigh spoke afterwards and discussed the allocations of council’s 2020/21 budget, along with their $50 million COVID-19 recovery package.

The evening concluded with a question-and-answer session with Cr McVeigh, deputy mayor Andrew Smith and councillor Kylie Bourne.



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