New model to boost trade training
TWO-speed economy. It's a phrase that is used with increasing regularity to describe the status quo in Central Queensland, arguably one of Australia's most resource-rich regions and the setting for Queensland's biggest mining boom in recent memory.
While other parts of the state - and the country - are still feeling the pinch of wider global financial issues, 'CQ' continues to surge ahead in jobs growth and skills demand.
With engineers, project managers, tradies and hospitality staff working side-by-side in Bowen Basin mines and Gladstone refineries, why then are these professions segregated when it comes to education and training options?
Professor Scott Bowman, Vice-Chancellor of CQUniversity, believes a dual-sector university for the region is the answer.
This would see a single education provider offer all types of post-school education and training, from certificate qualifications through to bachelor and postgraduate degrees.
According to Professor Bowman, the time has come to adopt the dual sector model in Central Queensland.
"We are sitting in a region unlike any other in Australia, at a time unlike any other, with opportunities and challenges being thrown at us that only come along once in a lifetime," he explains.
"The communities, industries, economies, workforce pressures, skills needs, social factors, environments and lifestyle options of Central Queensland cannot be found anywhere else in the state - yet for decades we've had the same cookie-cutter post-schooling options as everywhere else.
"It works, but it could work so much better for us."
With this in mind, CQUniversity has been working towards becoming a dual sector university itself, through a proposed merger with the Central Queensland Institute of TAFE.
Serious merger discussions between CQUniversity and the Queensland Government began in August last year, and these are progressing well.
The Commonwealth Government has agreed to provide $73.8 million in operational and infrastructure funding to support the merger, as soon as the State Government gives the green light.
If all goes to plan, CQUniversity will be offering dual sector study options to Central Queenslanders by 2014 - and Professor Bowman says there is strong regional support for this to happen.
"I believe the merger of CQ TAFE with CQUniversity will unlock the region's potential to respond more quickly and effectively to the education and training demands in our own backyard," he says.
"Currently we have a TAFE and a University, both full of great staff, both with fantastic facilities, both competing for the same school leavers and students, both trying to skill the local workforce, but with no real coordination or strategy between them because they are working in relative isolation - and it is the students that are missing out."
What is most important when considering a trade career?
This poll ended on 31 October 2012.
The right theoretical training
The right practical training
Career prospects and salary
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.