South Australia is currently in a unique situation due to the recent discovery of large mineral deposits and the establishment of new mines around the State. Despite this so-called ‘boom’ in the mining industry the Whyalla Economic Development Board (WEDB) has raised some concerns about the sustainability of small businesses in the Whyalla region. Attracting and retaining professional and skilled people to live and work in regional communities is critical to the sustainability of local firms. However, many small businesses in Whyalla are facing challenges to retain capable employees, as they train these employees and then lose them to the mines because they are unable to compete with the high level of wages being offered. The City’s ageing population also contributes to the loss of skills. One way of attracting skilled people to regional areas such as Whyalla has been through participating in a skilled migration program. This paper describes the outcomes of research by the Centre for Regional Engagement of the University of South Australia - in collaboration with the WEDB - involving small businesses operating within the retail and services sector in Whyalla. The research investigated the mechanisms used by the businesses to fulfil their social responsibility obligations towards their employees in order to retain them and enhance the sustainability of the firm. It was found that strategies to find and keep suitable employees were to attract skilled migrants to the area and to maintain a “happy workplace”. The results of this research will provide useful information to bodies such as the WEDB, enabling them to support the businesses in finding solutions to the employment problem.
|Keywords:||Sustainability, Social and Environmental Responsibility, Small Business, Employees|
Head, Business and Regional Enterprise Unit, Centre for Regional Engagement, University of South Australia, Whyalla, SA, Australia
Associate Head of School, School of Computer and Information Science, University of South Australia, Adelaide, SA, Australia
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