Energy’s head of strategy and innovation called Melissa Doueihi, who made the two-hour commute to work in Sydney’s corporate heartland two years ago to work closer to home.
When Doueihi was promoted to head of strategy and innovation. Energy has attempted to develop a corporate plan to support the decarbonisation of electricity needs and support energy solutions for business and residential customers in the region.
“Better employment opportunities are starting to open the door for people like that in Western Sydney,” Doueihi says.
She only travels about 20 minutes to get to work each morning, which means more time with her family each week.
Now that he’s not sitting in the business for so long, he has time to train for the half marathon, get to the local book club and run his three boys to their after school activities. “It’s really important to have that flexibility and the right balance if you want to achieve a work life balance, and I found it.”
A new perspective
These stories are becoming more and more common in recruitment circles.
Western Recruiting founder Sean Johnston was born and raised in Sydney’s western region and has watched it grow and develop over the past two decades.
It is agreed that the change in outlook since the lockdowns has resulted in a growing number of senior candidates living and working well in Western Sydney where you can enjoy life after knocking instead of sitting in a traffic jam.
Johnston says Western Sydney has always been an economic powerhouse, but much more so because of the massive economic development the region has undertaken.
“When I first started recruiting in the west over 20 years ago, most of the big corporate and big business deals were based in the CBD. To get the highest salary and really advance your corporate career, you need to work in the CBD or North Sydney, and then Macquarie Park,” recalls Johnston.
But these days, Western Sydney has been transformed, with large estates now home to young families. There are significant lifestyle improvements, while new offices and huge business parks in Riverstone, Norwest Business Park, Parramatta CBD and Olympic Park will serve to boost the workforce, Johnston says.
Senior talent seeking jobs paying up to $200,000 are taking the position into account and want to work closer to home to have a better lifestyle, he says.
“People want to work closer to home in Western Sydney where there are opportunities to walk, run or ride your bike to work, and salaries are in line with the city anyway,” he said.
“There are plenty of opportunities for manufacturing jobs, and since wages are compatible with the CBD anyway, why would people want to fight the commuter gangs, or the taxes that keep Sydney’s CBD? It doesn’t matter if you’re white or blue collar, the West is home to some of the best talent around,” said Johnston.
A battle for talent
Norwest Recruiting interviews more than 100 applicants a week for roles in the western Sydney area, says Erica Westbury, the company’s managing director. “The opportunity may be competitive, but there remains a huge demand for talent.”
Westbury says: “It’s been an advertising-driven market for the last 12 months. There’s not enough talent out there, so people are worried about pay and conditions and companies are calling the shots and trying to figure out how to attract and retain the best people.”
“Paramatta is very different to when I was appointed late 20 years ago, with more than 4,000 public service roles in the area. There is a huge demand for good talent in this neck of the woods,” he said.
The president and CEO of employment firm Asuria, Con Kittos, describes western Sydney as one of the most attractive markets in the country. “Everyone’s preference is to work closer to home than ever before and the opportunities to live and work in Western Sydney are greater than ever,” Kittos says.
The candidate shortage is so severe that it overwhelms corporate growth opportunities.
Skills gaps exist across high-value sectors, including construction, advanced manufacturing, scientific and technical services, health care and tertiary education, Kittos says.
“There is a high level of unmet demand in areas of employment growth. Very desperate employers cannot meet people with high-value and entry-level jobs,” he said.
But money talks, and corporate salaries have been on the rise for the last year or two.
And while salaries have gone down a bit, the war for talent is resulting in substantial bills being put on the table for key roles, Johnston says.
“One investment we saw a candidate literally double his salary and now it’s $250,000,” he says.