Issue 5
Monday, 11 April 2016
Charles Darwin University
Alicia Boyle: Business would benefit
Alicia Boyle: Business would benefit

‘Untapped workers’ could boost NT economy

By Patrick Nelson

Charles Darwin University’s Northern Institute has estimated that there are nearly 6000 unemployed Darwin residents who have the potential to boost the Northern Territory economy.

Workforce Development Research Associate Alicia Boyle said the mobilisation of Darwin’s “untapped labour force” could enhance government objectives to develop Northern Australia.

“The Territory’s capacity to seize opportunity is limited by a tight labour market that is characterised by a small and mobile workforce, low unemployment rate, recruitment and retention difficulties and skills shortages,” Ms Boyle said.

“Part of the solution may rest with the untapped workforce, whom we’ve identified as comprising migrants and refugees, people with a disability and people aged 50 years and older.

“These are people who hold post-school qualifications and were unemployed and not in the labour force at the last Australian census. Some were discouraged job-seekers, some were marginally attached to the labour force, while others were employed, but at a level below their formal level of qualification.”

Ms Boyle and research fellow Dr Kate Golebiowska published their findings in a co-authored Darwin case study: “How to mobilise the ‘untapped’ labour force for Northern development?”

Ms Boyle said small and medium-size Darwin businesses were well placed to benefit from untapped labour. 

“Many of the 75 small and medium-sized enterprises we surveyed reported numerous benefits from having employed people from these groups and many indicated they would seek to employ more in the future, noting that retention levels were good or excellent.

“The benefits also extend to the individual, whose economic and social well-being would improve, and to government, which would have a smaller welfare bill and a larger tax base.”

Ms Boyle said the Territory Government’s Framing the Future document presented a vision where just about everyone who wanted to, could participate in the NT’s society and economy.

“Labour market conditions are forecast to be favourable for several years in construction, education, health, accommodation, food services, retail trade and other sectors,” she said.

The report has can be accessed online at W: