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Skill up now for the Qld resources, construction boom

01 June, 2012

The opportunity to lead Queensland's resources boom and Commonwealth Games development lies with people acting now to acquire the right skills.

Six years before the starter's pistol will send an explosive burst of activity onto the first track event at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, a whole raft of opportunities are being triggered at Griffith University Gold Coast.

And while the Games will spur unprecedented demand for a gamut of professional skills, there is another key driver unearthing prospects for students in the Sunshine State—the resources boom.

According to Pro Vice Chancellor International and director of Griffith University's Commonwealth Games project, Chris Madden, there has never been a period in the university's history that has offered so many options.
Madden challenges the term "global financial crisis". Rather it's an "advanced nations’ crisis" and now BRIC (Brazil,Russia, India, China) are fuelling demand for Queensland’s resource-rich reserves.
"The world is being saved (economically) by developing nations, particularly China whose demand for our resources is huge. Australia is uniquely placed to provide needs geographically, logistically and technically and all persuasions of government are willing to take advantage and utilise the boom," he said.
Recently released data by the Australian Bureau of Statistics indicates that while total job positions have fallen by 181,000, demand for mining jobs is soaring.
Meanwhile, the industry's investment pipeline has projects worth around $900 billion, with economists expecting that to grow even further this year.
"When we have a resources boom and Aussies can’t cope with the demand on labour due to our ageing population, there will be a new supply of graduates positioned to take advantage," Madden said.
Professor David Thiel is a director at the Centre for Wireless Monitoring and Applications in the School of Engineering.
He says there’s a "flood of people" wanting to study engineering to take advantage of rapid growth in both the resources and infrastructure sectors. Railways, transport, coal terminals, ports and tunnels are popping up like never before.
"Sub-disciplines such as geo-technical, mechanical and structural are in high demand from the mining and infrastructure industries," he said.
"Students who come in for one-year masters programs are being picked up very quickly by companies servicing these industries. When you prove yourself to be valuable, you're in."
Thiel says Queensland is abundant with natural resources and the talent is coming on line to meet demand.
He says "enviro-literate" engineers, for example, are highly sought in the coal seam gas regions.

"While labourers can earn good money in the mines, if you have a degree, you really are the cream of the crop," he said.
"I tell international people that our coal seam gas reserves are one metre deep, 400 kilometres wide and 1000 kilometres long. That's a heck of a lot of coal."
While students are looking to upskill to take advantage in the mining industry, it's game on just across the road from the Gold Coast campus, where the Commonwealth Games athletes village is likely to be built.
Much has been reported about the economic impact the Games will have on the Gold Coast. There will be 15,000 jobs created from an estimated investment of $2 billion.
Madden says it's the Gold Coast's turn to benefit from the positives that abound and the Games' legacy is sustainable.
"These jobs will be compatible and the more skills you have the better placed you will be. It's a bit like the mining sector, there are jobs but everyone needs to get skilled," he said.

Source: Griffith Alumni and Community Magazine

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