The Ipswich Leaders Alliance is urging political parties contesting the upcoming State Election to invest significantly in jobs growth across the region to avert a looming skills shortage and future unemployment crisis.
Mayor Teresa Harding established the advocacy group after her election to council earlier this year, to ensure the city presented a collective voice to parties vying to form government after voters go to the polls on Saturday.
The city of Ipswich is the fastest growing region in Queensland, and it’s a youthful city, with a median resident age of 32.
“Our relatively young workforce and youth need pathways into high-demand skills of the future to secure employment in growing industries,” Mayor Harding said.
“A new approach is needed to prepare local workers for local jobs of the future – investment is required to align education with high growth industry needs through collaborative partnerships between education providers and industry to streamline job-ready skills development.”
The Alliance released its latest Make Your Vote Count for Ipswich election scorecard last Friday, with one of the eight priorities for the region focussed on “creating new jobs through industry growth and skills development”.
It has called on the major parties to fund an Ipswich industry development and jobs program targeting defence, health, construction, advanced manufacturing, and education jobs; and fund the Ipswich Region Skilling for the Future Program to be delivered by the Ipswich Region Chamber of Commerce in partnership with education, training and skills providers.
The ALP, LNP and Pauline Hanson’s One Nation have made partial commitments to date – but the Alliance said more was needed now and called on the next State Government to invest heavily in next generation of South East Queensland workers.
Mayor Harding said 75 per cent of Ipswich’s jobs are based in seven industries; health care, manufacturing, education and training, retail trade, public administration and safety, including defence, construction and logistics.
“By 2041, these industries are expected to double their employment needs to over 100,000 jobs and half of all jobs in Ipswich will be in the construction and manufacturing, education and training, and health care,” she said.
Queensland Government data shows that in order to meet industry demand, qualification achievement in these sectors will need to grow at 11 per cent per year for health care, 9 per cent per year for education and training, and 7 per cent for construction and manufacturing.
Historical qualification achievement in those sectors by Ipswich residents has, however, been less than 5 per cent for education and training and health; and construction and manufacturing experiencing almost no growth.
“If the government does not take action, Ipswich residents will be inadequately qualified and workers will be locked out of high growth industries,” she said.
“However, course content also needs to be co-developed with industries to ensure qualifications provide workers with the skills to be job-ready.
“Modernising the skills base of the Ipswich workforce is essential to ensuring industry development across defence-associated industries including innovative supply chain services and high-value research and development in advanced manufacturing and health.
The Alliance welcomed the LNP’s commitment to invest $135m in defence industries in Ipswich, through partnership with Rheinmetall Defence Australia to build a new technology precinct at Redbank. The commitment includes a training centre and will create 350 new construction jobs and 500 permanent jobs once operational.
The ALP’s $7m commitment to expand Bundamba TAFE and $2.25m to expand WesTEC Training Centre would also provide a much needed boost to local training infrastructure.
“The Ipswich Leaders Alliance is asking all parties to consider aligning skills development with industry needs to ensure economic resilience and prosperity for households and businesses.”
Read here for the latest election scorecard.