2021 NT Training Awards Speech - Debbie Paylor, General Manager ISACNT

Good evening everyone and welcome.

Light…acknowledgement to Larrakia people traditional owners of the land from which I present tonight

I acknowledge the Minister for Jobs and Training the Honourable Paul Kirby, The Honourable Austin Asche AC QC, Ms Marie-Clare Boothby Shadow Minister for Jobs and Training, Mr Shaun Drabsch Chief Executive of Dept of Industry Tourism and Trade, sponsors, employers, family and friends and most importantly the stars of tonight … the 2021 finalists.

As the platinum sponsor, it is an honour to be sharing this full house event with you all this evening.

I am certain you will all agree with me when I say, Northern Territory is the star of the nation, .. in what has been another COVID dominated year.

And what a great place to be, the Northern Territory! 

We’ve done so well in the last 12 months… having experienced only 2 lockdowns that spanned a few days each. 

Howard Springs is the benchmark for all.

Property values are up and continuing to rise.

And rental vacancies are down. 

Many NT businesses have been able to continue to do business. 

However, sadly this is not so true for our regional and remote Tourism businesses, whom I acknowledge tonight have had a rough journey these past 18 months.  

All in all, in Northern Territory major centres visitor numbers are strong and we’ve experienced an excellent dry season with increased inter and intra state travel.

And we have maintained our freedoms, which I know like me,  you are grateful for as well.

However, there are some challenges within all these positives … that is, major impacts are occurring to workforces …..   significant impacts and shortages across the nation that the Northern Territory is not immune from.

In a region that is heavily reliant on their workforce from international travellers, migration, interstate movements, …. new data and statistics emerging indicate COVID is playing out in very different and unexpected ways on industry and their workforce.

Business needs workforce;  to operate and ultimately for long term sustainability and success.

Businesses are reporting it is getting much harder to recruit skilled talent into the workforce.

Let’s talk about this for a moment …..

If schools leavers replace retirees, which that in itself may or may not be a perfect balance, where is the workforce coming from?

It’s a genuine question, one that is a very real and complex problem.  Especially for rural and remote areas.

Traditionally, NEW or additional workforce has come from a decline in unemployment figures, also from migration - increasing population.

Unemployment figures are in decline for the NT and international borders are closed and could remain that way for more time.

So ..  how will the demand be met?

The additional workforce to meet the needs of industry and our businesses today and the major projects that are close to commencement, the future projects that are in the pipeline, new infrastructure developments?

At ISACNT the team extensively engage with industry to identify their workforce, skills and training needs now and forward.

If we know the demand, and there is no new workforce, how do we address this problem?

How do we think about this differently?

If demand represents undersupply and we CAN identify this …..  CAN WE identify the other side of that equation workforce oversupply?



If we consider oversupply….how is it defined?  

Workforce oversupply occurs when the existing workforce has been impacted by other forces. 

The impact of automation and technology could represent indicators of oversupply.

Other forces such as:

  • a Technology shift  
  • Policy change
  • Economic impact
  • a Pandemic
  • it could be Climate conditions.

There is new and emerging technology that can assist us to understand these forces and impacts.  

Embracing technology, AI (Artificial Intelligence) and analytics combined with Industry engagement WE CAN  gain insights into current workforce capability and future requirements.

Insights to better understand forces shaping our labour market to identify people in jobs that may have been impacted and upskill or reskill them. 

There is further potential that can identify people with aligned skills and attributes for the jobs that we already know are in demand.

With the same AI,  skills gaps can be measured between the job in demand and the job in oversupply for targeted training, upskilling or reskilling to where it is needed …. to meet genuine industry need.

With a deeper understanding of projected workforce needs and with a capability that enables matching undersupply with oversupply, together with training our people and the grow our own strategies, we are closer to identifying and potentially mobilising workforce to meet rural and remote requirements.



Territorians are very good at motivating people to come to the North.

To visit, to live, to work and to play in our wonderful Territory…. our great land of opportunity.   

Add to that, an ability to align skills that address skills gaps and we have a key to potential and we’re a big step closer to building our workforce.  

This is a very small insight into the work ISACNT are currently developing ….. we will be sharing more on this topic in the coming months and welcome the opportunity to talk about these developments with you further.

This evening, to all of the finalists the Industry Skills Advisory Council extends their warmest congratulations, to the employers and to our 2021 finalists on their brilliant achievements and wish you all a fabulous night of celebrations.


Thank you