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Moreton Bay’s massive growth projection an opportunity to spread skills and prosperity

4 Oct 2022

As Moreton Bay faces a 20-year economic and population boom, the University of the Sunshine Coast is addressing skills shortages to ensure everyone can access the region’s growth opportunities.

UniSC Vice Chancellor and President Professor Helen Bartlett said that with a projected population increase to 700,000 in 20 years, there was an enormous opportunity to educate and equip people with the necessary skills to meet industry gaps.

Businesses are facing skills shortages in engineering, information and communications technology (ICT), science, early childhood and aged care and social assistance, she said.

As the Federal Government looks to add 20,000 extra university Commonwealth Supported Places to meet industry needs, Moreton Bay is a region that could offer quick solutions to skills shortages, Professor Bartlett said.

“We look forward to working with the government on this initiative by seeking to recruit additional students across our areas of strength in information technology, science, engineering, early childhood, aged care and assistance.

“Our enrolments have exceeded expectation, largely due to pent-up demand before a university campus arrived, which is why we are seeing such a high number of non-school leavers enrolling,” Professor Bartlett said.

“We have not only been able to partner with businesses in the region to meet their needs and support rapid workforce, but also to invite businesses to co-locate with us at The Mill site in Petrie, a Priority Development Area.

“National and international companies are moving to the region and telling us that they need skills and talent as soon as possible, so we are aiming to get students into the workforce during their university programs, to earn while they learn.

“The benefit will be two-fold. Businesses can establish and expand with confidence and the community has the opportunity to share in the prosperity of a growing region.”

University participation in the Moreton Bay region is at 11.4 percent. If it were at the Queensland average of 14.2 percent, there would be 20,000 students at the UniSC Moreton Bay campus.

Moreton Bay Mayor Peter Fannery said The Moreton Bay is seen as a powerhouse of South-East Queensland’s economy due to the scale of emerging industry and is projected to grow much further as more businesses move to town, he said.

“It is absolutely essential to have a local pipeline of graduates and UniSC is a vital conduit for the skills and talent businesses need to thrive in our region,” Mayor Flannery said.

“People are moving here for the lifestyle, and are settling from the bay to the hinterland, and it’s still relatively affordable to people moving from outside of the area.

“And we know that seven in 10 students that study in a region stay in a region, so people who are coming here for the lifestyle are finding the career opportunities close to home, and they’re not as likely to leave.

“This means skilled people remain here and that can only benefit the region,” he said.

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