The future of Central Queensland education still uncertain
NEARLY six months after the review was finalised, the future of Queensland ag colleges is still up in the air.
This year, Queensland Government engaged Emeritus Professor, Peter Coaldrake, AO, to undertake a review of vocational education and training services at Emerald Agricultural College and Longreach Pastoral College.
Shadow Minister for Agriculture Tony Perrett said the review was finalised in June but findings are yet to be revealed and the future of the colleges still uncertain.
"We need him (Mark Furner, Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries) to release the review and explain to agriculture in Queensland, the agriculture industries, what his plans are for these colleges,” Mr Perrett said.
"It's extremely important. Twenty billion dollars of revenue is generated for this state directly out of agriculture and 300,000 direct and indirect jobs.
"It's very important that industry be supported through training programs like this.”
LNP Member for Gregory Lachlan Millar said any move to shut down the colleges would be devastating for Emerald and Longreach.
"We need to have some clarity and certainty around these colleges,” he said.
"These colleges play a significant part in agriculture.
"When we've got an industry here in the Central Highlands where not only do we have cattle and cotton, but now we have chickpeas, figs, watermelon, onions, potatoes, grapes, horticulture - it's basically a salad bowl here.
"We should be using these colleges as a training ground, for all those disciplines, instead of letting it sit here and idle.”
According to the Queensland Agricultural Training Colleges Annual Report, in 2017/18, QATC delivered specialist agricultural vocational training to 2129 students.
Cotton Growers Association representative Aaron Keily attended ag college after boarding school and said the opportunities it created were invaluable.
"Back then there was around 220 students and it's an opportunity people still need in agriculture,” he said.
"With agriculture growing every year and the diversity even in Queensland.
"It was definitely beneficial, it gave us the skills and it gives students the skills, welding, cattle work.”
Central Queensland farmer and representative of AgForce Ian Burnett said the colleges are essential for the future of the industry.
"As far as the agricultural industry goes, they're (ag colleges) paramount, they're extremely important as far as training for our future employees,” he said.
"They've provided that over the years and the industry really requires them to continue.”