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    Media Statements

    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    Minister for Employment, Training and Industrial Relations and Minister for Sport
    The Honourable Tom Barton


    Minister for Employment, Training and Industrial Relations and Minister for Sport
    The Honourable Tom Barton

    Wednesday, March 08, 2006


    The State Government today announced significant changes to the Cooloola Sunshine and Wide Bay institutes of TAFE, including $25 million to modernise the Nambour campus, as part of the Government’s billion dollar skills blueprint.

    The blueprint, Queensland Skills Plan: A White Paper, launched today by Premier Peter Beattie and Employment and Training Minister Tom Barton, will address skills shortages and maintain the state’s position as a national leader in the economic and socially vital area of vocational education and training.

    Mr Barton said implementation of the White Paper would mean that in future up to four out of five apprentices could have the expected time for their apprenticeship reduced by up to six months, while some will have their apprenticeships reduced by up to 12 months.

    There is currently an all-time record high of more than 37 700 apprentices in training in Queensland.

    Mr Barton said the $25 million for the Nambour campus would modernise teaching facilities, upgrade specialist trades equipment and allow for the construction of purpose-built facilities at or near Mooloolaba.

    “As part of the new plan Cooloola Sunshine Institute of TAFE’s Gympie campus will become part of the Wide Bay Institute of TAFE, as Gympie’s demographics are better aligned with the Wide Bay region,” Mr Barton said.

    “This re-alignment will allow Cooloola Sunshine TAFE to respond better to its core demands and future growth strategies.

    “With this change, the Cooloola Sunshine TAFE will also be renamed the Sunshine Coast Institute of TAFE.

    “The new Sunshine Coast TAFE will be responsible for leading training development and coordination of programs in child care across TAFE Queensland.

    “Wide Bay and Central Queensland TAFEs will take the lead across the state in security and marine transport programs.”

    Mr Barton said students from across the Wide Bay and Sunshine Coast region would continue to access training courses through their local TAFE campus.

    The Queensland Skills Plan also provides for the expansion of Skilling Solutions Queensland, an innovative training and career information service which was successfully piloted in 2005.

    Mr Barton said The Queensland Skills Plan would foster more cohesive partnerships between government and industry and ensure better collaboration between public and private training providers.

    “The aim of this document is to not only overcome the skill shortages currently impacting on the Queensland economy but to position our vocational education and training sector for the future,” he said.

    The Wide Bay and Sunshine Coast region would also benefit from other White Paper initiatives including:

    • the establishment of a state-wide Trade and Technician Skills Institute to lead product development and delivery for automotive, building and construction, manufacturing and engineering, and electrical/electronics training. The institute will deliver trade training through regional TAFE institutes including Bundaberg, Maryborough and the Sunshine Coast;
    • the implementation of a major capital works program to modernise TAFE across the state enabling students access to state-of-the-art technology and greater flexibility in the way they undertake their training;
    • the establishment of 23 new skills formation strategies to ensure a collaborative approach to meeting the skills needs of industry;
    • the creation of three new centres of excellence to ensure leading edge skills development in the industries of energy, manufacturing and engineering and building and construction;
    • an increase in the number of trades training places, with 17 000 extra places available across the state including about an extra 900 places, depending on demand, in the Wide Bay/Sunshine Coast region each year by 2010. This will build on approximately 4 300 apprentices who were in government-funded training in the Wide Bay-Burnett and Sunshine Coast region as at 30 June 2005;
    • an increase in the number of training places available in Certificate IV and above programs, with 14 000 extra high level training places available across the state, including about an additional 700 places in the Wide Bay/Sunshine Coast Region, each year by 2010.

    Mr Barton said the 24 actions included in the White Paper would bring the Queensland vocational education and training system into the 21st century and position it to respond to the changing needs of the state’s economy.

    The Queensland Skills Plan is the most significant package of reforms to the way Queenslanders access skilling opportunities in more than 40 years,” Mr Barton said.

    “The key priority is to take immediate steps to meet the shortage of skilled workers – particularly in the trades – and to minimise the impact of skills shortages on continued economic growth.”

    Copies of The Queensland Skills Plan: A White Paper can be downloaded from the Department of Employment and Training’s website at

    Media contact: David Brewtnall or Michael O’Meara on (07) 3225 2210

    March 8, 2006