Earlier this year, the Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue launched a new discussion paper to channel more investment and more reform around future decision-making in Sydney’s “Central City” which stretches from the Hills in the north via Parramatta, Westmead and Sydney Olympic Park, through to Canterbury Bankstown in the south.
One of the aims of the report is to stimulate employment and skills, through continued infrastructure investment and economic development programs that leverage the growth of key centres such as Parramatta, Westmead, Sydney Olympic Park and Canterbury Bankstown.
Building on the momentum of arts, sport and cultural investments, the report recommends relocation of broadcasters SBS and the ABC to the Central City in order to stimulate the digital creative sector, creating products and services for both domestic and international distribution.
It advocates, too, for digitally enabled advanced manufacturing to help leverage well-serviced existing industrial lands for future-focused urban products and services. And that they be centrally located to service the whole of Sydney, which will ensure good access to the freight network and our international trade gateways, according to the report.
Overall, the paper argues a better-connected Central City can best support a diverse and educated 30-minute labour catchment of national significance in Western Sydney.
Fast tracking jobs of the future to real-time vacancies means providing people with access to the right skills and employment opportunities. Both are critical to growing economic activity, and jobs, in the centre of Sydney, so says the report.
Setting a new Central City vision, Stuck in the Middle: A discussion paper examining how to unlock the potential of Sydney’s Central City, aims to ensure development of the centre of Sydney as an employment hub, and advocates for ensured connectivity from across the Central City to the economic hubs of the north.
Western Sydney as a region, including much of the Central City, provides an opportunity to grow jobs in the area. But improved connectivity is required in order to alleviate the congestion for many workers of the Central City from their west-east commute into Sydney’s CBD. They travel from some of the nation’s most significant economic hubs – places like Parramatta, Westmead, Sydney Olympic Park, Norwest, Macquarie Park and Bankstown Airport.
In 2016, the largest industries of employment for residents in the centre of Sydney were healthcare and social assistance, retail, construction and manufacturing, the report says.
Compared to the Greater Sydney region, the Central City has more people working in services and industrial jobs, and fewer jobs in the knowledge-intensive industries.
Employment projections to 2036 anticipate significant growth in jobs characterised as professional, scientific and technical services, public administration and safety, education and training, and arts and recreation services.
For this projection scenario to eventuate, the Dialogue is calling for an increase in coordinated planning across the region to leverage the opportunities that are available and maximise the dividend across all parts of the Central City.
The Central City has a long history of hosting large portions of Sydney’s industrial and employment activities and is well-placed to support national industry priorities such as advanced manufacturing, health and medical research, and cybersecurity.
Amplifying the Central City’s digital capability is critical to realising government’s aspiration of creating high value, future-focused jobs in the area, expanding on existing activities in strategic employment centres such as Norwest, Macquarie Park, Westmead and reimagining activities in Bankstown, Silverwater, Rydalmere, Camellia and Auburn will be critical.
A City Deal partnership model – mirroring the successes of the Greater Sydney Commission’s existing Western City Deal – can create partnerships between government, industry and academia to deliver industry-led research. In turn, this can lead to commercialisation, creating both local jobs and national impact.
Adam Leto is the Executive Director of the Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue.
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