Former AgForce chief to oversee QATC transition

The Queensland Government has appointed former AgForce chief executive officer Charles Burke to oversee the transition of Queensland Agricultural Training Colleges.

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said Mr Burke would bring his significant industry experience to bear in leading a project management office guiding the transition.

“Charles Burke will spend time in Longreach and Emerald working with local stakeholders as we reinvigorate vocational education, training and skilling in the state’s central west,” Mr Furner said.

Mr Burke spent five years as CEO in a total of 16 years with AgForce, including stints as vice president, treasurer, state councillor and chairing several committees.

He also served as vice president of the National Farmers Federation.

Mr Furner expected the PMO to hit the ground running under Mr Burke, with a focus on great outcomes for communities and for diverse and flexible agricultural training opportunities.

“Two staff will be based full-time in Longreach and one in Emerald, however all PMO officers will spend significant time in the region working with QATC, local government, other stakeholder and the community,” Mr Furner said.

“This will involve identifying economic development opportunities and ensuring the best use of QATC’s facilities.

“Throughout this process, every current student will still be able to complete their qualification or studies at QATC, or through a supported transition to another training provider.

“Likewise, where possible, QATC staff will be redeployed or supported in finding alternative employment or training.”

Mr Furner said $30 million was being invested in this critical modernisation of vocational education, training and skilling in the central west.

It follows the independent review undertaken by Professor Peter Coaldrake, who found there was declining demand for traditional agricultural industry training as it has been delivered.

“The Queensland Government recognises we must move to a more modern, cost-effective training model,” Mr Furner said.

“We have started discussions with vocational education and training (VET) providers and commercial interests to develop a plan for better use of the QATC’s college facilities in Longreach and Emerald.

“These are valuable assets and they need to be used more effectively. We want to make sure that they are available to support a range of training, not limited to agricultural.

“This does not include using the sites as correctional facilities or refugee settlement centres as has been incorrectly reported.

“I would urge those with an interest in the QATC to take the time to actually read the Coaldrake Review and what is proposed.”

More than $30 million will be invested in reshaping VET:

  • $25 million over three years for the Annual VET Investment Plan
  • $700,000 for Regional Skills Investment Strategies to meet training needs in the Central Highlands and Longreach Local Government Areas
  • $2.2 million for the Regional Skills Adjustment Strategy to support drought-affected producers
  • support for the Skilling Queenslanders for Work program.

Coaldrake Review report: https://publications.qld.gov.au/dataset/coaldrake-review

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