Rockhampton leaders’ shared vision for skills-led regional recovery

Published:02 September 2020

CQU apprentices chat with Vice-Chancellor, Professor Nick Klomp, Rockhampton Region Mayor, Cr Margaret Strelow and and Adnought Sheet Metal Fabrications manager Greg Adams

A TAFE Centre of Excellence will turbocharge skills and training in the Rockhampton region, and drive future employment opportunities after the economic devastation of COVID-19.

That’s according to some of Rockhampton’s key civic, industry and education leaders, who met today at CQUniversity’s Canning Street campus to call for State Government backing of the $49.8 million Central Queensland TAFE Centre of Excellence project.

CQUniversity Vice-Chancellor, Professor Nick Klomp was joined by Rockhampton Region Mayor, Cr Margaret Strelow, local Regional Development Australia chair Grant Cassidy, and Adnought Sheet Metal Fabrications manager Greg Adams in calling on the State Government to financially back the project.

“The Queensland Government has identified ‘Investing in Skills’ as one of six key priority areas that will help the state bounce back after the economic shock of the pandemic,” Professor Klomp said.

“That’s why we’re calling on the State Government to fund the Central Queensland TAFE Centre of Excellence, which will create hundreds of construction jobs in the short term, and will contribute strongly to developing the region’s future workforce in the long term.

“For an investment of $49.8 million, we will create more than 350 jobs to be created in the construction phase of the project, as well as more than 300 long-term jobs and 48% growth in TAFE students over the next 10 years.”

Professor Klomp said the project would involve building a new, state-of-the-art TAFE training facility at CQUniversity’s Rockhampton North campus, freeing up the Canning St site for potential health and residential use.

Cr Strelow said Council supported the immediate job creation and long-term workforce revitalisation that the proposed project would bring to the region.

“Few things are more important to the Rockhampton Region than ensuring its people have access to world-class, locally-based education and training outcomes,” Cr Strelow said.

“Not only will the CQ TAFE Centre of Excellence help to meet existing workforce demand and skills shortages in the region, it will also see our next generation of TAFE graduates creating their own businesses and employment opportunities well into the future.”

Mr Cassidy said Central Queensland needed to build a strong and confident economy if it wanted to survive and thrive following the unprecedented events of 2020.

“We need to do everything we can to skill up and diversify our regional workforce for the future, and this project can deliver on that mission,” Mr Cassidy said.

“The CQ TAFE Centre of Excellence represents a prime opportunity for government to invest in the future prosperity of a region that we know is absolutely vital to the state’s economy.”

Mr Adams, whose company has trained a total of 26 apprentices through CQUniversity and its predecessor institutions, said the project was long overdue.

“Industry moves fast these days and it’s critical that our TAFE infrastructure keeps up to speed with changes in technology, equipment and skills requirements, otherwise Rockhampton businesses will be left behind,” Mr Adams said.

“I wholeheartedly support an upgrade that will bring our local TAFE facilities into the 21st century with the latest gear that can turn out the best apprentices possible.”

As the public provider of TAFE in the Capricornia region, CQUniversity requires a new TAFE training facility to:

  • Replace the current facilities which are aged and, in many cases, beyond their useful life,
  • Accommodate more apprentices and trainees than the current facilities can handle, in order to help scale the region’s skilled future workforce,
  • Provide flexibility so that the new facility can train Rockhampton region students for the jobs of the future, and
  • Realise efficiencies from co-locating TAFE training alongside higher education in Rockhampton North.

Professor Klomp said the University was seeking a Queensland Government funding commitment for the TAFE Centre of Excellence prior to the October state election.

“This project will play a pivotal role in leading the Rockhampton region out of 2020 and into a brighter economic future.”