Winning the war for talent in regional Australia

The start of 2020 brought huge challenges for Australia. A major drought was followed by devastating bushfires when the COVID-19 outbreak began. The Government acted quickly to close borders and contain the pandemic. The Australian health system coped well, and an effective public health response stemmed community transmission. A fiscal stimulus equivalent to 18% of GDP supported businesses and the livelihoods of Australia workers.  

 The result was that Australia was less hard hit economically than other countries – Australian GDP was 2.4% lower in 2020 than 2019 but this decline was far smaller than the average across other advanced economies.    

With a rock-solid economy, Australia is well positioned to grow in a post-COVID world.  

The IMF forecasts Australia’s GDP growth to pick up to 3% in 2021 and 2.8% in 2022, subject to the post-pandemic global economic recovery. According to the IMF, the Australian economy is set to become the world’s 12th largest economy in 2021 with a GDP of around A$2 trillion. Australia is home to just 0.3% of the world’s population, but accounts for 1.6% of the global economy.  

Attractiveness of regional Australia 

Attracted by lower house prices, job opportunities and lifestyle factors, the move from capital cities to regional Australia has been underway for years. In the five years to 2016, regional Australia had a net inflow of 65,204 people including some 32,000 millennials that moved from capital cities to regions.  

 The pandemic resulted in physical distancing restrictions that spurred rapid investment and uptake of work-from-home technologies and ignited a long-term behavioural and workplace shift towards greater flexibility. With many people enjoying increased time with family, no daily commute and better use of public open space, COVID-19 has resulted in many people reimagining the lifestyle they want.   

The prospect of an enhanced quality of life in combination with continued work-from-home patterns has brought the potential of life in regional Australian towns and cities into sharp focus – cities that have already been growing and changing because of their attractiveness.  

While record numbers of Australian’s are turning their backs on the capital cities and moving to regional Australia and there are record numbers of new job vacancies, surging house prices and a shortage of housing stock, which has created the real prospect of an undersupply of labour.  

For businesses in regional Australia, this has created another challenge – how to win the war for talent.   

A&G Engineering – an employment ecosystem of support, recognition and values 

Headquartered in Griffith, NSW, A&G Engineering is an Australian, family-owned company that has grown from humble beginnings in 1963 to become Australia’s leading designer and fabricator of stainless-steel tanks and vessels.   

Employing 160 people across manufacturing facilities in Griffith (NSW), Mildura (VIC), Angaston (SA), and dedicated retail facilities in Melbourne, Griffith & Mildura, A&G hires locally and spends locally. The business takes its community responsibilities seriously and strives to continue to play its part in supporting economic and social viability of the communities in which it operates.    

A&G is currently advertising to fill welding, labouring, maintenance, and transport vacancies across its business, mainly in stainless steel fabrication and precision manufacturing roles. Chief Executive Officer Tom Gallagher said, “With more companies competing for the best talent, we have to understand what employees need from their place of work and consistently deliver it to them. If we don’t, we’ll always struggle.”   

Mr Gallagher added, ‘Prospective employees have lots of options and they are becoming more and more discerning in their job search. The market is tough, and it is essential that we can attract and retain the right talent. It’s not enough to just think about employment packages and we strive to build an entire ecosystem of support, recognition and values to attract and retain high-performing staff.’ 

“As a growing business in regional Australia, it is essential that we don’t lose the family feel that has underpinned so much of our success and been so important to our staff. Over our 60-year history, the A&G business has changed a lot, but the commitment to our family values has been a constant. For example, to protect this, we’ve recently created the role People & Culture Officer to support our employee value proposition and ensure that the business continually develops its culture of inclusivity, family values, and respect for the efforts and individual circumstances of its people.’ 

A&G Engineering – thinking outside the square 

The desire to create a great environment for our staff has triggered a number of initiatives that historically have been considered “outside the square” in the Australian manufacturing sector, such as a parental leave policy that entitles all eligible workers to 4-weeks paid parental leave in addition to any statutory parental leave schemes.’  

‘We have also introduced a social club program that is aimed at promoting departmental and inter-departmental interactions at a more personal level. Each department is issued a budget per head to partake in a social event of their choice and this budget is further supplemented with achievement of safety targets and KPIs. Our goal is two-fold – looking after each other and ensuring safety is our first priority and, secondly, maintaining our tight-knit group and ensuring we take the opportunity to reward ourselves, have a good time, and enjoy each other’s company’   


We’re always delighted to hear from people who want to join the A&G Engineering team. If you think A&G sounds like an organisation you’d like to be part of, please contact us via email at or call our People and Culture Officer on (02) 6964 3422. 

We encourage you to contact us and we look forward to hearing from you.