Industry, uni build for boom return

THE boss of a large engineering company predicts Central Queensland will soon boom again with students like Rockhampton's Garth Kath set to reap the rewards.

John Holland's general manager Brendan Petersen has teamed up with CQUniversity to launch an Engineers for the Future Program.

John Holland is a contracting, engineering and services provider.

Yesterday, as Mr Petersen and the university's Vice-Chancellor Professor Scott Bowman spoke about the new partnership, Mr Petersen said the resources sector was set to take off.

“We have to develop skills now for when the resources boom takes off,” he said.

“Students spend four years studying and find it hard to apply what they've learnt in to the workplace.

“We will have programs geared to do well in transitioning them into the workplace and address the shortage.”

It will be students like first-year civil engineering student Garth who will gain from the program, which will enable them to learn through internal assignments with John Holland.

Garth said the opportunity of working with a leading company would give him a great chance to gain experience.

Professor Bowman said this was the type of relationship he wanted to encourage between the university and the private sector.

He said the John Holland program was a model for all universities to aspire towards.

“We can do this across the board for teachers and doctors and will use this as one of the first steps in that direction,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mr Petersen isn't the only boss thinking about future employment in the region.

Waratah Coal's China First Project, near Alpha west of Emerald, is slated to create 6000 jobs.

The company's chief executive officer, Peter Lynch, said a skills shortage across Central Queensland was going to put workers in high demand.

“If you talk to the big people (mine companies) they'll tell you it's already hard to find the right workers,” Mr Lynch told Mackay's Daily Mercury.

“Invariably, they're going to be fighting over the same workforce - that's the marketplace.

“And that's not going to be sufficient, especially with the large scale mining providers.”

Peter Watts, the area supervisor of workforce services company Skilled, yesterday said labourers, plant operators and fitters were in high demand at the moment in Rockhampton and were expected to remain so during the next couple of months.

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