Federal Government dumps funding for energy training centre in Gladstone

A new $21 million energy training centre in Gladstone that was set to train people to work in the gas industry has been axed by the Federal Government.

The government’s decision to cut its $16.6 million funding promise towards the project came just days after a new report showed the oil and gas sector was facing a looming skills shortage.

First announced in July, the centre was to provide opportunities for locals to break into the region’s LNG job market.

The new facility was set to offer 140 additional training places for locals and 67 jobs during the construction period and include two classrooms and a simulation facility to enable a work-like experience.

Queensland TAFE chief executive Jodi Schmidt said the decision to cut the funding was disappointing, The Observer reported.

"TAFE Queensland is disappointed that the announced EIF project at Gladstone will not continue," Schmidt said.

"We were relying on this funding to deliver skills required to supporting the ever growing skills needs of Energy Sector in the Gladstone region."

While CQUniversity Vice-Chancellor Professor Scott Bowman said it was also disappointed with the decision to axe funding.

"It was disappointing to see the funding for the Gladstone Energy Training Centre cut, especially given the amount of community and industry support it had," Bowman said.

"With the merger of the university with CQ TAFE next year, this facility would have been a flagship example of the two institutions coming together."

Limited training opportunities in the region had seen complaints from locals as well as unions who want locals to be considered for jobs first.

The new facility had been slated as one of a kind for the region as it would stop the need for people to travel outside of Central Queensland for training.

In another blow to the region, CQUniversity had been planning on using the centre to launch a flagship chemical engineering program.

"We planned to broaden the focus of this facility beyond TAFE training for the LNG industry to include specialist research, and the introduction of industry-tailored undergraduate studies such as chemical engineering," Bowman said.

A new report released this week by the Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency showed jobs in the oil and gas sector would rise by nearly 40,000 by 2018, warning of a skill shortage in high-level specialist operator roles in the sector.

''Global competition for skilled workers is increasing and with a long lead time required to develop critical skills, industry, government and education and training providers have an opportunity now to work together to develop responses to meet these skills challenges,'' the report said.

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