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Workforce Development in Innovation Precincts: Insights from global practice and implications for NSW

This report is a global review of place-based workforce programs that are critical to the success of NSW innovation precincts, generating jobs, increasing productivity and delivering benefits to the wider community.

Workforce and talent strategies are critical to the success of innovation precincts in New South Wales.

Successful precincts generate a range of jobs – entry-level, mid-level, and senior roles – and these span a full spectrum of industries. These jobs benefit residents as well as a wider ecosystem and have knock-on effects on demand for services and infrastructure.

To date, it has been common in the early stages of precinct development for the infrastructure and workspace to be prioritised. However, precincts must also be intentional from the outset about how they ensure businesses have the skills they need, and how more people can participate in the local innovation economy.

This report sets out how precincts can build the workforces they need to support companies and clusters to specialise and succeed, while benefiting their local communities. It provides a global review of workforce programs in more than 25 innovation precincts, informed by 40 interviews, 20 validated case studies, and desktop research. The report focuses on the particular skills needs of innovation precincts and the specific place-based approaches they require.

The report finds that over the past decade New South Wales has been developing more of an integrated and whole-of-government approach to helping the workforce develop in response to industry needs. However, we can do more to improve the capability, capacity, and connectedness of our workforce within the state’s innovation precincts if they are to deliver sustainable jobs and prosperity.

The report makes ten recommendations for NSW Government and provides best practice guidance to inform policy development and government place-based programs and investment decisions, so that our innovation precincts have the workforces they need to succeed.