Jobs for NSW has laid out a high-level plan for the state to create one million jobs by 2036, in part by prioritising digital innovation and entrepreneurial talent.
The private sector led and government funded Jobs for NSW scheme is chaired by former Telstra chief David Thodey, and its 20-year plan has the government’s support.
Hot on the heels of Queensland appointing a chief entrepreneur, NSW is set to appoint its own “concierge” to represent the state’s start-ups and digital innovators to government.
The Jobs for NSW plan calls on the state government to back 11 “globally competitive tradeable segments” in the economy: two of these are “start-ups and digital innovation” and “infrastructure and smart cities”.
Eventually, all 11 segments will have its own concierge, but to begin the government is backing four segments initially, and digital innovation is one of them.
“A concierge would be senior in experience and status, able to convene the most relevant people from all parts of government to advance an opportunity or remove a barrier to growth,” Jobs for NSW said.
“In particular, they would facilitate other Jobs for the Future strategies for their segment.
“They may identify or cultivate clusters for the target segment; accelerate place-based transport and infrastructure initiatives; identify and support cluster champions; promote investment into the target segment with introductions between government, investors and businesses; introduce government procurement opportunities to the segment, and otherwise promote the segment formally and informally.”
The Jobs for NSW plan also calls on the government to back the development of clusters of capability. One of the suggested pilots is the proposed White Bay innovation hub.
Also central to the Jobs for NSW plan is to encourage “high growth” rates in small-to-medium firms – what it refers to as the backing of “gazelles”.
Gazelles, the plan said, are the “silent engine room of NSW’s net jobs growth”. They were only six percent of all businesses in the state between 2008 and 2014, yet they added one million new jobs, and the government is hoping that focusing on them will accelerate that kind of potential.
“When a large firm fails, the loss of a thousand jobs will understandably prompt headlines of anger and disappointment,” Jobs for NSW said.
“Yet when a thousand new firms create 150,000 new jobs, there is no particular moment to celebrate.
“The great unheralded story of the six years to 2014 has been the six percent of NSW businesses that started small but grew strongly. We need more of those businesses.”
The government has already indicated it will put money into the growth of the gazelles, including loan guarantees and direct investment into incubators and accelerators that can help small businesses onto a high growth trajectory.
“We now understand the vital role of gazelle companies when it comes to creating jobs, but also their existing funding challenges,” Thodey said.
“As a result, a large proportion of our funds will be targeted towards these companies.”
The plan also looks at how the government can assist people to skill up for knowledge jobs.
Jobs for NSW said it expected action items it calls out to be implemented in as little as a single term of government.
However, it also said that the jobs growth agenda should remain “agile” and able to react to market changes.
“[This is] the start of an agile agenda for action to create jobs in NSW: an agenda that follows a strategy and is fiscally responsible, but that is flexible and responsive to changing economic and social conditions,” it said.
“The agenda must remain agile, with actions changing over time, expanded when successful, adapted to suit conditions, dropped when unsuccessful or having met their objective.
“The timeframe for implementing, and in many cases completing, these actions would be three to four years.”