Business forum success: Salt’s keynote peppered with humour

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More than 180 members of the local business community and key City stakeholders attended the City’s first business forum of the year at Joondalup Resort on Friday 7 May.

Keynote speaker Bernard Salt took the audience on a journey into the future, using the forum to talk about the economic outlook for Joondalup and Perth’s northern corridor.

To make him feel welcome – it had been more than 12 months since an interstate guest had addressed one of the City’s business forums – there was “smashed avocado” on the menu, paying homage to the millennial meme that made Mr Salt famous.

The highly-regarded social commentator, who provides advice on demographic, consumer and social trends for businesses across Australia, also took part in an interactive panel discussion with City of Joondalup Chief Executive Officer James Pearson and Michelle Hoad, Managing Director of North Metropolitan TAFE.

Chaired by Pia Turcinov from Mystral Enterprises, the trio shared their ideas on how Joondalup could capitalise on its existing assets to take advantage of the ‘trajectory shift’ in economic activity caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr Salt said many workers who worked from or near home over the past 14 months during the COVID disruption had enjoyed the flexibility and convenience of being able to do so. For others, it had prompted them to change career paths or upskill.

He said that Joondalup, as an education-focused City, was in prime position to take advantage.

“Over 85 per cent of new skilled labour has previously come to WA from overseas. The cut in immigration; both students and skilled workers, means that Perth is exposed and needs to focus on local upskilling and training. Joondalup, the home of the Joondalup Learning Precinct, is best placed to support the rise of skilled, essential and knowledge workers in the west,” Mr Salt said.

Mr Pearson said the City of Joondalup already had the lifestyle attraction and assets in place to become a future workplace hub.

“It is now the City’s job to market these assets properly, including our wonderful lifestyle, to encourage investors to spend their money and set up their businesses in Joondalup,” he said.

Mr Pearson also emphasised to the audience that local government can be a friend and ally to small business, offering a suite of programs to help the City’s 13,000 businesses connect and grow.

Mayor Jacob said Mr Salt’s look into the future Joondalup economy ahead was particularly timely, given it coincided with work beginning on the development of the City’s new 10-year Strategic Community Plan.

“Economic development will remain a primary focus for our City as we transition from an economy supported by population growth to one driven by business investment, innovation, and entrepreneurship,” he said.

“If COVID has taught us anything, it is that we need to be resilient and adaptable. We need to look at new ways to get business done and we need to prepare now to accommodate the jobs of the future.

“Mr Salt’s presentation gives us confidence that Joondalup is on the right track.”

Ms Hoad said during the pandemic, North and South Metro TAFE had undertaken a rapid review of industry needs to support job security, business continuity and growth.

She said the sector was now booming, confirming a high demand of students had chosen to upskill or explore new career paths during the pandemic.

“Joondalup has the potential to attract talent and human capital into the City.  It’s about providing blended options – blended working arrangements, blended education offerings,” she said.

The City’s business forum was supported by Business Events Perth.