The YP Gold Coast City Leaders Forum 2019 sparked conversation on how the Gold Coast can be the most liveable, innovative, and business friendly city in the world.

Business leaders with a shared passion for the city congregated last week to stimulate high-quality debate and promote action towards creating a highly skilled Gold Coast.

The panel included City of Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate, Paul Jaffar – Partner at Chempro Chemists and Vice President of Gold Coast Central Chamber of Commerce, Professor Carolyn Evans – Vice Chancellor and President of Griffith University, and Jessica Mellor – Chief Operating Officer at The Star Gold Coast.

The city leaders had personal, emotional or professional interests in the region and drove discussion on the important steps needed to enhance job growth and talent retention on the Gold Coast. They discussed the importance of educational facilities, required investment in further digital and physical construction, the role of liveability in terms of long term job growth, the need for a central business district, and action the community and government can take to improve the competitiveness of the region.

City of Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate said it was important for the next generation to have an opportunity to work on the Gold Coast or be enticed to come back and work in the region.

“It is important to have jobs with enough seniority for talented professionals to boomerang back to the city,” he said.

“I would encourage professionals to spread their wings, learn and grow beyond the region, and then come back, develop more, and contribute to building a highly skilled city.”

The panel agreed one of the biggest challenges for the city in recent years was a lack of senior positions compared to capital cities.

The Star chief operating officer Jessica Mellor said talent was one of a businesses most significant investments.

“It is important to retain talent by treating staff as individuals and harnessing their strengths when building teams,” Ms Mellor said.

The panel believed harnessing the talent of university students and graduates was also an important facet in developing a highly skilled region.

Griffith University vice-chancellor and president Professor Carolyn Evans said encouraging young people to study and work in the region was important.

“There is a need for broader plans for economic diversification so there are different types of opportunities for students coming out of university to stay in the region,” she said.

“We also need to encourage talent to the region. Talent attracts talent and bright people want to work with bright people on exciting and important work. Great universities, great hospitals, global companies, and global start-ups make the city more attractive.”

Chempro Chemists partner and Gold Coast Central Chamber of Commerce vice-president Paul Jaffar said industry partnerships with local universities, like Chempro’s partnership with Griffith University School of Pharmacy, was an important step forward for job self-containment on the Gold Coast.

“It is important to give students hands-on-experience in the community,” he said.

“The liveability the cityis also one of our greatest assets, and needs to be considered in the recruitment process. At Chempro we have a unique business structure that we encourage interns to go on to managerial positions or partner with the business – young people appreciate it.”

Jessica Mellor said since returning to the Gold Coast after working in Canberra, she noticed the city’s cultural offering had grown.

The panel agreed the growing arts and culture sector had the potential to further diversify the city’s economy, but there was also a need for a defined centre of commerce on the Gold Coast.

Paul Jaffar said Southport, which is home to the health and knowledge precinct, has easy access to light rail and increased IT capabilities, had been earmarked as the city’s CBD.

YP Gold Coast former president Sean Braybrook provided a keynote address and said with $12.5 billion invested in transformational projects over the next 12 months the city is at a turning point, but it is time to spark the next wave of maturity and evolution in the city’s growth story.

“As a member of the business community, as a parent of two young children and someone who is fully invested in the future of this city, I want to ensure the end is right,” he said.

“I want us as the business community to be involved in what happens to our city today and tomorrow.”

Author: By Rosemary Ball, Griffith University