In a salute to National Skills Week' CQUniversity Vice-Chancellor Professor Nick Klomp has encouraged Central Queenslanders to reflect on the critical importance of training and trades to the region's economy.
The annual event' which takes place from 23-29 August' highlights the talents' skills' career pathways and value of the nation's vocational education and training (VET) learners.
Professor Klomp said that in the past 12 months' demand for trade qualified professionals in Central Queensland had increased significantly' allowing CQUniversity apprentices to experience excellent employment outcomes.
"Despite the pandemic' we have seen an upswing in demand for trade professionals in the region' especially in the resources and related industries' but across all other areas as well'" Professor Klomp said.
"It clearly demonstrates the need for further investment in trade training infrastructure in Central Queensland' with governments at the state and federal level playing a critical role in backing such nation-building projects.
"There is certainly no shortage of interest from aspiring tradies. Our apprentice numbers have grown by 37 per cent in the three years to 2020' and last year 69 per cent of our graduate apprentices reported an improvement in their employment status as a direct result of their training – more than three per cent higher than the national average.
"Mining' energy' building and manufacturing are the economic backbone of places like Mackay' Rockhampton and Gladstone' and it is critical that investment in trade training and skills is not just maintained but increased into the future.
"We have avoided the worst of the pandemic in CQ' but sustained investment in VET facilities is needed to ensure an adequate pipeline of skilled workers for the future prosperity of our region."
Professor Klomp also highlighted the importance of funding for projects that support emerging industries' so that regions can take full advantage of the likely economic returns.
"Vocational training in Central Queensland currently provides skilled workers for established industries' but it is critically important that we think ahead' well into the future' by ensuring our industries and our regions can keep pace with rapidly changing technological and environmental demands.
"We need to ensure our training and our facilities are equipped to deal with emerging technologies' like hydrogen and renewables' electric vehicles' drones and agtech' so that we are producing qualified professionals with the skills and knowledge to meet the needs of these growing industries.
"In a mining hub like Mackay' for example' we need to ensure our mechanical apprentices are exposed to electric powered vehicles and machinery because we know that demand for greener' cleaner engines is growing – both from consumers and industry.
"This demand is driving change and we need to keep up in order to ensure the future sustainability of our regional industries and workforces.
"Further investment will directly help to train apprentices and upskill existing professionals' and it will also help to establish our regions as national' or even global hubs for these emerging industries. Just imagine what this could mean for the future of regional Queensland."
Professor Klomp said that CQUniversity would continue to work with state and Federal Government' as well as industry and community groups to ensure funding and investment in trade training within Central Queensland keeps pace with regional needs and industry demands.
"With a Federal Election set to take place in 2022' I look forward to continuing to work with all levels of government and all local candidates to secure the best deal possible for the University' our students and our regions'" Professor Klomp said.
"Investment in these skills isn't just an investment in the University's facilities' it is an investment in our young people' in jobs' in industry and in long-term sustainability.
"This National Skills Week' I invite all Central Queenslanders to not only reflect on the importance of trades' training and VET to our regional economy' but also to demand that our VET infrastructure meets our ambition for a skilled-up local workforce of the future."
CQUniversity VET stats at a glance
Total VET students (full year 2020)
Average VET student age
Percentage of female VET students (full year 2020)
Growth in VET students 2017-2020
Percentage of VET students with an improved employment status after training (full year 2020)