Mid-year budget axes funding for energy training centre

THE federal government has effectively sent the $24.9 million Gladstone Energy Training Centre to the dustbin just one day after a key government agency said more training for the oil and gas sector was sorely needed.

As part of its mid-year budget, the federal government revealed it had stopped funding the Education Investment Fund, and the $16.6 million which was slated for the centre .

The centre was to offer 140 training places and create 67 new construction jobs and was seen as a vital cog in training workers for the oil and gas sector.

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It is thought a large proportion of the places offered were to go to Gladstone residents, giving locals a chance to up-skill to find work after the construction boom.

Just days ago the "Resources Sector Skills Needs" report put out by the government-backed Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency put out a report suggesting that 22,000 operations jobs around the country would be created as LNG projects move into production.

However with the sector facing a looming skills crisis, the industry will either need to train up new workers or bring them in from overseas.

Queensland TAFE chief executive Jodi Schmidt said the decision to cut the funding from the program was disappointing.

"TAFE Queensland is disappointed that the announced EIF project at Gladstone will not continue," Ms Schmidt said.

"We were relying on this funding to deliver skills required to supporting the ever growing skills needs of Energy Sector in the Gladstone region."

CQ Uni Vice-Chancellor Professor Scott Bowman said it was also disappointed with the decision to slash funding from the centre.

"It was disappointing to see the funding for the Gladstone Energy Training Centre cut, especially given the amount of community and industry support it had," Professor Bowman said.

"With the merger of the university with CQ TAFE next year, this facility would have been a flagship example of the two institutions coming together."

The federal government has not yet responded with comment.

Budget cuts could hit CQUniversity

THE slashing of funding to the Gladstone Energy Training Centre may have wider repercussions because CQUniversity had been planning on using the centre to launch a flagship chemical engineering program.

"We planned to broaden the focus of this facility beyond TAFE training for the LNG industry to include specialist research, and the introduction of industry-tailored undergraduate studies such as chemical engineering," CQU vice-chancellor Prof Scott Bowman said.

While the funding cuts are a blow to Gladstone, it is thought the government's axe may not fall on the Gladstone Technical College on Gladstone State High School grounds.

While The Observer was unable to make contact with the college on Wednesday, it is believed safe from $1 billion worth of cuts to trade training centres.

According to Opposition estimates, 277 proposed centres in NSW and 123 proposed centres in Queensland were for the chop, but not existing facilities.