As more workers leave large cities for the regions, global consulting giant Ernst & Young has opted to establish its first regional centre in Ballarat, Victoria.
- It will be the first EY office outside a metropolitan area
- The move will create 200 new jobs, which a Ballarat city advocate says is a huge boost for the region
- But people moving to regional areas is also putting pressure on housing availability, according to a report
The move has been welcomed by the city’s advocacy group, Committee for Ballarat, but its CEO Michael Poulton has also stressed a need for services and housing to keep up with this kind of rapid growth.
“It’s a wonderful announcement that we’ve heard from EY. It really puts confidence into our regional economy and demonstrates that the region has got a lot to offer,” Mr Poulton said.
He said the new office would do a lot for the regional town’s overall prospects.
“It just enhances the region’s reputation as a place to do business, to live, and to come and visit and/or to invest in,” he said.
Partner and project lead for EY Daniel Wong said the company was very excited about taking advantage of the trend to move away from metro centres.
“We studied this in the feasibility, and we found that a lot of professional-services-type people are looking to relocate out of capital cities into more regional towns and cities,” he said.
The consulting firm, in its first office outside a major capital city, will create 200 jobs for regional workers in Ballarat and surrounding areas.
“Given what we’ve seen develop over the past couple of years with more people working and mixing remote work with on-site work, we think there’s just a great opportunity in regional Australia to do that,” he said.
But this fast-changing growth could put further pressures on housing and rental affordability in regional towns like Ballarat.
In 2020, 43,000 Australians moved to regional areas from capital cities according to the Australia Bureau of Statistics.
This is more than double what was recorded the year before.
Monash University’s Bradley Woolley found in a 2021 report — Housing Affordability in the Ballarat Region — that the recent “exodus” from metropolitan areas to Ballarat had exacerbated housing affordability and availability.
Mr Poulton said, while these challenges were not unique to Ballarat and the regions, it was “crucial” that Australia planned for the future.
“Because you’ve got companies like EY looking to come to regional areas, it’s even more important that we press the accelerator on both infill and greenfield development to continue to develop a whole range of diverse housing stocks in this region,” he said.
The company will service clients across Australia and the Pacific and will partner with Federation University to recruit and train new staff.
EY is already one of the world’s largest professional services firms, boasting more than 300,000 employees in 150 countries.
In Oceania alone, it made $2.3 million last financial year and the expansion into the Ballarat region is expected to add to that growth.
“I think it is so important that it opens up a job market of highly skilled, arguably highly paid people who can come to the town,” Mr Poulton said.
“We’ll see over time, but certainly we’re committed to Ballarat and this sort of regional centre in Victoria and to make it successful,” Mr Wong said.
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