POTENTIAL: Sarah Martin explores Gympie USC, which demographer Bernard Salt says is crucial to capitalising on jobs growth.
POTENTIAL: Sarah Martin explores Gympie USC, which demographer Bernard Salt says is crucial to capitalising on jobs growth. Renee Albrecht

Why Gympie's lagging uni assets are strangling its economy

DEMORGRAPHER Bernard Salt has pinpointed education as the driver of the region's future, with data revealing almost half of new jobs in this country since 2010 classified as "ultra skilled”.

Mr Salt said university and technical skills were at the heart of this job movement which was part of a wider 3.9 million jobs created between November 2000 and November last year.

"In order to share in the prosperity you need either a university degree or technical training,” Mr Salt said at Thursday morning's Gympie business breakfast.

"These are knowledge workers.”

Gympie's USC campus.
Gympie's USC campus. Contributed

It was here Gympie has lagged.

Australian Bureau of Statistics data reveals, in 2016, the population of Gympie students at university was about 5 per cent.

This was well below the Queensland and Australian averages, which each surpassed 15 per cent.

Almost 35 per cent did not state their activity, compared to the country's rate of 25 per cent.

Michelle Walker and Joel Armbruster at Gympie's USC last year.
Michelle Walker and Joel Armbruster at Gympie's USC last year. Renee Albrecht

These were the only two education categories (including among pre, primary and secondary schools, TAFE and other) in which Gympie was not within 2 percentage points of the country.

A deal struck between Gympie Regional Council, the State Government and USC last week will allow the region's USC campus to expand into an empty TAFE building nearby.

The agreement arrived on the back of almost five years of campaigning for that same growth by Gympie's State member Tony Perrett.

Bernard Salt speaks to Gympie's business community.
Bernard Salt speaks to Gympie's business community. Scott Kovacevic

Based on Australia's trends, Mr Salt said giving the region's children an education was the "best thing you can do for them”.

"One campus is fine. One campus that's expanded is better,” he said. "Two campuses is even better.

Economic efforts in the region should not stop there though, Mr Salt said.

The region should be "pumping up” Gympie's education, professional service, construction and health care industries in its efforts to drive the economy, he said.

"The future belongs to the educated,” he said. "That's where we need to invest in the regions.”

Gympie Times


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