Talent transition in the Hunter 

Male walking through solar panels

At the end of 2021, The Measured Marketer talked about the need for industry in the Hunter to diversify and the pivotal role marketing plays for those organisations – and regions – on this journey. Now as we approach the end 2022, our friend diversification has been joined by another key requirement in the Hunter. The need to transition. 

Now these two obviously go hand in hand. In many cases, industry diversification will underpin the transition that will take place across the Hunter region as we move towards Net Zero by 2050. But what does that mean for the people of our region? And what in turn does that mean for marketing functions within the organisations we work with? 

Infrastructure Australia’s 2022 Regional Strengths and Infrastructure Gaps report paints a relatively rosy picture of the Hunter region: 

“Over the past two decades the region has seen significant industry diversification into sectors such as renewables and technology, whilst also innovating in existing sectors such as agriculture and mining. A significant portion of the region has recently been designated as a Renewable Energy Zone, putting further momentum behind diversification into renewables. Skill retention for these developing industries has been supported by urban renewal in Newcastle, creating rapid population growth in the Lower Hunter. As a result, the region is emerging as an innovation hub, with renowned industry, education, health and research institutions contributing to Australia’s growing knowledge sector.” 

While this may be the case, this shift to developing industries – in particular renewables, and the corresponding decline in traditional power generation, mining and related sectors – present a huge people-based challenge for the Hunter. As the Committee for the Hunter A plan for the Hunter. Frontier of the New economy states: 

“While there are technology solutions to the changes [being bought about by the shift to renewables] and added urgency to convert plans into actions at scale, we must also focus on the impacts on people…The communities of the Hunter region are affected more than most as the world moves to low carbon energy and Net Zero…If an experienced and skilled workforce faces an uncertain outlook and leaves the region to find work, it will get much harder to grow.” 

Now pivot to the manufacturing industry. Deloitte’s 2022 manufacturing industry outlook identified five important trends to consider for manufacturing playbooks, the first of which is “Workforce shortage: Preparing for the future of work could be critical to resolving current talent scarcity”. Record numbers of unfilled jobs are likely to limit higher productivity and growth for the sector. This talent scarcity is compelling more manufacturers to consider raising pay, while others are looking more and more to automation to decrease some of impact. Others may also have more incentive to “pull forward” future-of-work strategies by re-architecting work, rethinking the composition and capabilities of the workforce, and adopting flexible and innovative workplace strategies. 

While the Deloitte report is US-focussed, we are seeing first-hand a number of our clients facing different challenges when it comes to talent. Over the past three years, there is a sense that people have really re-evaluated what is important to them. Those who left roles during COVID may not necessarily be returning – they may have switched careers; turned their side hustle into their main income stream; or in some cases even bought on early retirement. Apprentices and trainees are also harder than ever to find – there are many more ways for them to make a living, some of which just need half an idea and a laptop to execute. 

But what does all this mean for marketing? Well, Deloitte conveniently highlighted: 

“To attract and retain talent, manufacturers should pair strategies such as reskilling with a recasting of their employment brand. Shrinking the industry’s public perception gap by making manufacturing jobs a more desirable entry point could be critical to meeting hiring needs in 2022.” 

Is your brand appealing to the type of talent you need to attract now and into the future? Are you sharing your stories to help break down misconceptions or build more positive associations for your organisation and industry more broadly? How can your current talent pool help spread the word about the benefits of working in your industry? 

And what about your current employees? Will they be tempted to shift to someone else with a more compelling story or in a ‘sexier’ new industry? Is your brand and culture something they can be proud of? 

Company culture has always been important, but it is something we at TMM are noticing is more important than ever for Hunter-based businesses. For some local sectors, there are a lot of job opportunities in the market available to your current employees. And they are weighing up their current roles against what is out there – and asking themselves is my company brand and culture something I am passionate about or is there somewhere that will value me more? 

And this can be particularly true in marketing roles as well. We see organisations setting themselves up with 10-20 sales and BD positions, yet at the same time employing one part time marketing resource who is expected to generate new leads. We see marketing budgets cut when businesses are trying to save money or need to allocate new resources to help growth, but increased pressure to build awareness and generate interest in existing or new offerings. How do you think that sits for creating a high-pressure environment?  

From where we sit, there are only two reasons a business exists, as we’ve referenced in other articles, to innovate and create the things people want to buy, and then to use marketing to tell people about them so they buy them (to paraphrase Mr Peter Drucker). And to do both you need good people. Good people who are getting harder and harder to find and attract to your business. And good people who will often choose to stay or leave based on your brand and your culture.  

Talk to us today about how marketing can help make you an employer of choice.