Queensland Budget – forecasting economic growth strongest of all

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The first thing that stands out in the Queensland Government’s Budget 2016-17 are the Regional Action Plans that mostly align with Local Government Areas and outlines an economic snapshot with a summary of investment for major projects, events, industry sectors and business attraction.  This kind of information is very useful for those in economic development, education, employment, higher education, regional development, and Vocational Education and Training (VET).

Mackay_bulk_sugar_terminalBut what would be even better is a Workforce Action Plan to match the Regional Plans and ensure that the plan for growth has a workforce to match.  This would engage industry leaders and employers in developing local strategies for skills development for the 21st Century.  Perhaps this could be one of the roles played by Jobs Queensland that is future workforce planning for each region based upon the action plans.

Let’s look at the budget in more detail, pulling out those areas of interest from the original budget papers and documents.

Advance Queensland Industry Attraction Fund to attract business investment from interstate to Queensland, and support local businesses to reinvest or expand.  This will include attracting business investment from interstate as well as supporting local businesses to reinvest. The Fund will target priority industries such as biofutures, advanced manufacturing, defence and aerospace, Mining Equipment, Technology and Services (METS), biomedical and lifesciences, alongside areas of traditional strength such as agribusiness.

Back to Work Jobs Package – Employer support payments of up to $10,000 to hire and keep a regional Queenslander employed for 12 months or more.  Payments increase to $15,000 for hiring long-term unemployed regional Queenslanders.  Eligible employees will also have access to job readiness support to help them start their new job. This may include training, purchasing new equipment and uniforms or gaining or renewing trade licenses.  Back to Work Navigation Teams who know the local economy will help local employers looking to fill jobs. They will connect jobseekers to jobs or further skills training and apprentice pathways.

Connecting with Asia Strategy – $33.5M over four years to increase Queensland’s share of the Asian tourism market and grow tourism jobs in regional Queensland.  Regional Tourism Organisations in Queensland can access destination marketing, Aviation Attraction Fund and digital capabilities.

Education and Training, Jobs – The Government is investing $60 million this year to deliver our commitment to Skilling Queenslanders for Work.  This is helping up to 8,000 Queenslanders get the skills they need to get back into the workforce or enter higher level training.  This Budget will continue to implement the Government’s Rescuing TAFE initiative, part of the $34 million investment over three years to support TAFE Queensland and provide high quality training for Queenslanders.  An expanded Certificate 3 Guarantee Boost program will see more Queenslanders able to access subsidised Certificate 3 courses to help get jobs.  The Certificate 3 Guarantee Boost program is a critical element of ‘Back to Work’ in delivering skills and training to support jobs growth in regional Queensland.  The Government has reinstated the highly successful Skilling Queenslanders for Work initiative. Funding of $240 million over four years will support up to 32,000 Queenslanders into work. A further $3.25 million has been allocated for 260 traineeship positions in local government.  $2M over two years and a further $1 million of internal reprioritisation for a strategy to fund statewide partnership projects that will lead to increased employment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders and an increased number of sustainable Indigenous businesses.

Industry Accelerators – $9 million to support industry accelerators, encouraging the development of innovative products and services where Queensland excels.

International Education Strategy – $25.3M over five years for Trade and Investment Queensland to deliver initiatives from the Queensland International Education and Training Strategy to Advance Queensland and to continue the international Education and Training Unit.

Regional Innovation Hubs – $6 million for regional innovation hubs to encourage innovation in regional Queensland – connecting local efforts, leveraging regional strengths and lifting the capabilities of innovative local firms.

Schools – $72.4 million of additional funding over four years to develop and implement new Senior Assessment and Tertiary Entrance arrangements. Includes developing and trialling new senior assessment processes, redevelopment of senior syllabuses and professional development for teachers and curriculum leaders.

Small Business – The Advancing Small Business Queensland Strategy will inject new funding of $22.7 million to kickstart local small businesses – as part of a $44.5 million commitment to establish an Office of Small Business and the delivery of the Business and Industry Portal.  Building Digital Capability Grants of up to $10,000, matched by recipients, to help small businesses enter the digital economy or build their digital capability.  Entrepreneurs of Tomorrow Program provides grants of up to $5,000, matched by recipients, for new homebased start-ups.  A new Queensland Small Business Champion will provide a voice for small business.

STEM – $1 billion industrial biotechnology and bioproducts sector by 2025, sustainable and exporting to global markets.  The funding includes $14 million of additional funding over three years to help businesses access venture capital including $5 million for a new Biofutures Industry Development Fund.  There is $5.3 million of additional funding over three years to implement the Queensland Biofutures 10-Year Roadmap and Action Plan.

Technologies and Commercialisation – $10 million for the Platform Technology Program to develop and employ platform technologies – groups of technologies which form a base to take the next technological leap – in areas where Queensland has deep scientific knowledge and emerging industry strength.  $3.9M for the Technology Commercialisation Fund over three years to commercialise the intellectual property of Queensland’s pipeline of agriculture and food technology.

For the major infrastructure projects, and the market-led proposals including the Queensland Aquarium & Maritime Museum, Brisbane International Cruise Terminal, Mount Cotton Driver Training Centre and Logan Motorway Enhancement Project, it will be important to design and implement a workforce plan for each to support job creation and skills development.

Accelerating Advance Queensland brings together policy on innovation, industry, investors, research, small business, entrepreneurs and startups to create new jobs and this could reach even further into education and training policy as well as traditional employment projects.

June 2016

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