Lobby group urged to fight for Gladstone apprentices
A NATIONAL business lobby group has been urged to fight for Gladstone's vocational education opportunities to secure future industry jobs.
Sitting alongside the president of Business Council of Australia and Shell Australia's chairman, Gladstone's Leo Zussino said major corporates needed to rethink their approach to training opportunities and the corporate focus he had witnessed.
BCA president Grant King and Shell's Zoe Yujnovich agreed with the chairman of the Gladstone Ports Corporation that a shake up of Australia's vocational education culture was needed.
Speaking on the panel at a BCA luncheon in Gladstone yesterday, Mr King said the nation had neglected vocational education and that was showing in a skills shortage.
"There is a cultural issue, we value tertiary education more than vocational," he said.
"We need to encourage our children into vocational education and show them the value that exists in that."
Mr Zussino, also the chairman of the Gladstone Development Board, said training opportunities in regional cities like Gladstone where industries make their wealth was important.
"Over the last 10 years it appears the major corporates have set a structure down to strong corporate lines," he said.
"They've taken away the local management's ability to actually help influence decisions."
Mr Zussino pointed to the Global Financial Crisis in 2007, when a successful apprentice scheme approached major industries in a bid to re-place 22 apprentices who could not continue their training with their current employers.
"The scheme went out to all the major industries and said can you do something and the ports corporation was the only one to do so, we took 18 apprentices on to continue their training," he said.
"If that happened 15 years ago in Gladstone the local managers, even though the GFC hit hard on every industry, would have said to the corporates we have an issue in Gladstone and it's really important we take one or two apprentices."
Yesterday's Strong Australia luncheon was the Business Council of Australia's first in a string of events in regional Queensland cities.
The group has previously lobbied for changes to the energy market and company tax.