Queensland’s (QLD) Palaszczuk government has announced $17 million of funding for a $23 million Renewable Energy Training Facility (RETF) in Brisbane for Queenslanders to learn the job-skills of Australia’s clean energy future. Indeed, the state government listed “Renewable Energy” as its top emerging strength.
The announcement comes amongst the QLD government’s most recent phase of economic recovery from the impacts of Covid-19. “In the fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic, said Premier Palazczuk, “it’s imperative that we prepare Queensland for the difficult road ahead and plot a definitive, responsible and comprehensive plan for our economic recovery.”
Along with funding in the agricultural sector, tourism, construction, small business, and even the much-maligned arts, the resources and energy sector are a major focus of government investment. Along with the RETF funding, there is a boost in funding for the vanadium mining industry and A Collaborate Exploration Initiative to promote the exploration of new economy minerals, such as those essential to emerging technologies.
However, perhaps the most eye-catching is, of course, the RETF. Only a week ago, the QLD government also announced funding for a feasibility study into the proposed Barcaldine Renewable Energy Hub, and so it seems that at least a few residents of the Sunshine State have bothered to read the moniker on their number-plates. If QLD is the Sunshine State, then it must necessarily be a renewable state too.
The government’s $17 million investment will be topped up by a $6 million industry contribution. Palaszczuk said the RETF will provide skills training for 750 apprentices annually, as well as assisting around 26,000 local licensed electricians with further training. RETF will offer world-class training in electrical, solar, telecommunications and be operated by Electro Group Training (EGT), the same firm in charge of construction. I guess the best way to teach is to show.
Donna Pickford, EGT CEO, said that Queensland was the second-highest employing state or territory in 2018-2019 for the renewable energy sector with 26,850 full-time jobs. “This is a fantastic partnership that will provide so many of our current and future electrical workers with the skills they need in emerging technologies,” continued Pickford.
This notion was seconded by the Minister for Training and Skills Development Shannon Fentiman, who noted that the sector is projected to increase by 120% in the next decade. These jobs in solar and renewable installation, operation and management, need to be well trained. “As we recover,” said Fentiman, “we will need to make sure Queenslanders have those skills needed for the jobs now and into the future.”