OPINION: Last year was tough for many central Queenslanders involved in the resource sector, and for a lot of communities that rely on these industries performing well.
While doom and gloom pervades resource-sector jobs market commentary in central Queensland, CQUniversity is witnessing quite the reverse - especially for graduates of its engineering programs.
According to the latest Graduate Careers Australia survey, 90% of CQUniversity's graduating civil engineers had full-time jobs within four months.
That figure is for workers who graduated at the end of 2013 - hardly a sign of tough times for the sector.
Even better, across all disciplines CQUniversity's engineering graduates' average starting salary was $74,066 in 2012 - well above the national average of $65,333.
This year CQUniversity has committed to running all four years of its Bachelor of Engineering program from our campuses in Mackay, Gladstone and Bundaberg.
This is a major expansion of the delivery of engineering, which was previously just limited to the Rockhampton campus.
While four years may seem like a big commitment to potential students, it's also a bold investment in a bright future.
The Queensland Department of Employment still includes electrical engineers on its Skill Shortage List for the state, with particular demand in regional areas like ours.
The department also forecasts that professional and technical services, construction and mining, and healthcare will provide 60% of employment growth in the state over the next five years.
The university's reputation in engineering has always been recognised at the highest level.
Last year, CQUniversity worked with the State Government on the ResourcesQ initiative, a 30-year vision for energy and mining industry in Queensland.
CQUniversity was profiled as a market leader, working closely with industry employers to provide graduates who are job-ready, and offering tailored ongoing training to those working across the resources sector.
The proof of this is in the pudding - CQUniversity's Engineering Co-Op program sees students paid to complete a work placement year with some of industry's biggest employers, ensuring practical experience and invaluable gateways in graduate jobs.
It's this sort of innovation and industry connection that puts CQUniversity engineering graduates on top of the pile, regardless of the jobs market.
So while the recent contraction in the region's resources sector may seem daunting, it's worth remembering that this market has always been cyclical.
The industry and the workforce demand will inevitably recover again.
The current downturn is actually the perfect time to start studying an engineering degree.
In a few years' time, upon graduation there will likely be many new career opportunities to seize in the inevitable upswing of the industry.
Whatever your career goals in 2015, I wish you luck - and encourage everyone to research what long-term benefits can come with investing in your future through education.
Scott Bowman is Vice-Chancellor and president of Central Queensland University
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