Change is needed in university sector to future-proof CQ
AS vice-chancellor of Queensland's only duel-sector university, Professor Nick Klomp feels the weight of responsibility.
CQUniversity is a major education provider and a major industry in this region and that comes with both challenges and opportunities.
Prof Klomp says if young people are going to leave, then it needs to be for the right reasons, not because the quality of education or the types of jobs they are after are not there.
"The obvious thing is we need the right courses and the right graduates, but it's a bit trickier than that," he said.
"We make businesses jump through flaming hoops if they want to train their staff.
"Is it a VET course, is it higher education? It makes it really tough for students.
"It's not just CQUniversity, it's the sector and I'm doing what I can to fight that."
Darren Mcdonell is manager at Community Solutions, an employment, training and disability support organisation, and one of 100 people at last week's Future CQ breakfast in Rockhampton.
He was "very glad" to hear Prof Klomp talk about the duel-sector university, which he said had not been all clear sailing since the 2014 merger.
"It's a mentality, the academia side compared to the trades," Mr Mcdonell said.
"I don't think a lot of the decision makers understand both sides of that and how they fit together.
"I don't mean a negative mentality, just two very different sides, and that's a culture.
"Nick (Klomp) needs to feed that change from him down, and the sooner he can do that, that's when he'll make real change."
According to Prof Klomp, school leavers who go into a trade are treated differently from those going into higher education.
"The nation is calling out for graduates from the trades, but we make it so hard," he said.
"I hear about people who leave school, get an apprenticeship, arrange their study, then the business goes broke.
"The student didn't do anything wrong, but he doesn't have a job and he had to stop studying as well. Somehow we've set up that system."
He says the opportunity is to make education seamless for VET, trades, higher education and post-graduate study.
"We need to make it easy for businesses to come to us and say we need these skills," he said.
"For schools, for retraining - all skills areas need to change and upgrade, whether that's into robotics, big data or whatever.
"We have to put ourselves in a position where we are providing that service and opportunity for this region.
"I feel that's a major part of how a region can grow and not lose the talent and the young adults to the metropolitan areas."