‘Smart investments, not short-term sugar hits’: Jobs for NSW rejects Daily Telegraph criticism

The NSW Government has rejected criticism levelled at its $190 million job creation fund by The Daily Telegraph, which today claimed the fund’s managing body, Jobs for NSW, had yielded “drastically low results”.

[Related: “Previously, the government wouldn’t have engaged SMEs in this way”: Jobs for NSW CEO and “Huge coup for Sydney” – $35m startup hub to host exclusive Microsoft accelerator program]

Jobs for NSW was announced in August 2015 by then-premier Mike Baird, who said it would use the $190 million fund to “drive the creation of 150,000 new jobs over the next four years”. However, an article published by The Daily Telegraph (Monday, 12 March, page 16) notes that Freedom of Information documents obtained by the Labor Opposition reveal Jobs for NSW has had a “low yield”.

Specifically, the authors claim that businesses backed by the fund have committed to creating more than 4300 jobs but that by June 2017, 1058 jobs had been created, including “just 431 in its first full financial year”. The article also quoted Opposition Treasury spokesman Ryan Park as saying “millions of taxpayer dollars [have] been funnelled into a white elephant of an agency that has abjectly failed”.

The acting CEO of Jobs for NSW, Geoff White, described the Telegraph’s claims as “misleading”, adding “to suggest that investments like this generate jobs overnight is to completely misunderstand how business works”. He stated that Jobs for NSW is “investing in the long-term future of the state”, and that the fund is being managed by “some of the nation’s best business minds”, including its chairman, former Telstra CEO David Thodey.

Meanwhile, Thodey said his agency’s suite of financial products for startups and fast-growth SMEs are aimed at creating sustainable jobs and have been designed to ensure the fund can become self-sustaining over time.

“Our investments through Jobs for NSW were never intended to be short term sugar hits,” he said. “[T]they will take a few years to realise fully their job creation targets.”

“Instead of using the $190 million to hand over cash in the form of one-off grants, the Board and team at Jobs for NSW have developed innovative products, services and investments that support startups and companies to create jobs over the long term, including:

  • The nation’s biggest single startup location – the Sydney Start Up Hub – where 2,500 innovative people will work to create jobs and industries of the future;
  • Loan products to offer companies capital to invest in growing jobs in NSW and which are recycled back to the Fund, providing more taxpayer bang for buck;
  • a direct equity investment product developed in partnership with a leading superannuation fund to invest in companies growing their workforce in NSW;
  • [investments] in new industry precincts like Westmead, one of the largest health, research and education precincts in the world.

“The NSW Government, through Jobs for NSW, is making the smart investments needed to create the businesses and jobs of the future for the people of NSW.”

A spokesperson for the NSW Department of Industry said the NSW Government has “smashed” its target of creating 150,000 by 2019, with ABS data indicating that 246,000 jobs (246,000) were created in NSW between April 2015 and January 2018. The spokesperson added that Jobs for NSW is just one agency contributing to the overall Government job creation target, and that the latest forecast is that Jobs for NSW will support or generate almost 20,000 jobs by 2021/22.