AS THE Gladstone region celebrates Multicultural Week, how do we draw a connection between cultural diversity and small business?

One of the hot topics to come out of last Friday's forum on building opportunities in a culturally diverse region was the bizarre reality that there are talented, non-Anglo residents available for work, while small businesses struggle to fill positions.

Some people told the forum they had come to Gladstone as spouses of foreign workers, but were surprised they could not find work for themselves.

The clear outcome of the discussion was that better strategies were needed to connect the two groups.

For the past year, people have been discussing the spouses of foreign workers on 457 visas, who are available to work and probably don't want to sit at home all day anyway.

One person looking for solutions is Gladstone Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Rick Hansen. He spoke on the issue at the forum and, along with other GCCI members, has made no secret of the need for new ways of thinking.

"Definitely the opportunities are there," he said of the untapped workforce.

"I think (business) owners get caught up in owning their business, rather that managing their business," Cr Hansen said.

"I have been guilty of that in my own management over the years, but they have to take the time to learn new methods of engaging that part of the community, which could absolutely benefit small business."

He said while small business owners were time-poor people, the necessity to find new employees in Gladstone as the skills shortage got worse had become too pressing to ignore.

He said a third party needed to fill the communication-void between potential employees and small businesses

"It's now up to an agency, or somebody, to actually move into that area and make some impacts with small business owners," he said.

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