Training Minister Shannon Fentiman, Whitsunday Regional Council Mayor Andrew Willcox, TAFE student Rana Wagg and Labor candidate for Burdekin Mike Brunker during a Bowen TAFE visit earlier this year. Photo: Contributed
Training Minister Shannon Fentiman, Whitsunday Regional Council Mayor Andrew Willcox, TAFE student Rana Wagg and Labor candidate for Burdekin Mike Brunker during a Bowen TAFE visit earlier this year. Photo: Contributed

Long-awaited funding pledge earmarks millions for Bowen TAFE

HONING in on the agriculture industry could be the key to reviving Bowen's TAFE campus and supporting both students and farmers into the future.

A long-awaited funding injection could be forthcoming if Labor wins the upcoming election, as the party today made a $3.4 million pledge towards the Bowen facility.

The money will be invested in an Agricultural Centre of Excellence and is part of the Labor party's new $100 million Equipping TAFE for our Future policy.

Labor candidate for Burdekin Mike Brunker said a new agriculture facility would fit "hand in glove" in Bowen given the town's proximity to Proserpine and the wider Burdekin area.

Placing agriculture in the spotlight would also give the Bowen TAFE an upper hand, he said.

 

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"For years TAFE has tried to be a lot of things to a lot of people," Mr Brunker said.

"The new facility will deliver high-quality training for the latest practices in innovative, sustainable agriculture and horticulture.

"If we can focus on this, people will travel from around the state to train here to specialise in these particular areas.

"If you can focus in on that and focus on adding a string to your bow - it's great."

Expanding Bowen's TAFE offerings has been identified as a key way to drive the region's economy in the past, as calls have been made to offer more courses to support young people.

Bowen Chamber of Commerce chairman Bruce Hedditch this week expressed disappointment the Federal Budget did not included targeted funding for the TAFE.

Mr Brunker said the new facility would give students an opportunity to train in high-tech jobs, which was particularly important given the infiltration of drones and other technology in the industry.

"It gives them somewhere to go and it gives farmers the security to get people trained before they go out there," Mr Brunker said.

"That's not only Bowen but it's all the way up the coast, there's agriculture and horticulture from the Lockyer Valley to Cairns."

 

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Labor has pledged to spend the $100 million on the upgrades to upskill Queenslanders in existing and future industries such as robotics, agriculture, manufacturing and cyber security.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the plan would create construction jobs across Queensland and provide new, modern training facilities.

"I want young people growing up in the Burdekin region to have access to world-class training facilities to get them into rewarding careers," she said.

"If we want our economy to continue to recover from the COVID-19 global pandemic, we must be focused on skilling Queenslanders for the future.

"By investing $100 million over the next three years we will be able to support local construction companies and support more local jobs, including jobs for our apprentices."


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