Toowoomba is set to grow its reputation as an agriculture and health training hub following the unveiling of plans for a new multi-million dollar Rural Centre of Excellence as well as upgraded facilities for healthcare training.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and the Minister for Training and Skills Development Shannon Fentiman today turned the first sod for the new training centre, which is part of a $7 million campus redevelopment at TAFE Queensland Toowoomba.
“Agriculture is vital to the Queensland economy adding more than $10 billion each year and the Toowoomba and Darling Downs region is a major contributor,” the Premier said.
“The development of the new Rural Centre of Excellence will help deliver high-quality training to ensure the rural industry’s workforce is equipped with a broad set of up-to-date skills.”
Ms Fentiman said the redevelopment would cater for an additional 400 students at the campus which currently delivers training to more than 4,200 students per year.
“The Rural Centre of Excellence will cater for 200 more students – a welcome addition to the region’s growing agriculture industry, with a 20 per cent jump in enrolments already this year,” Ms Fentiman said.
“It’s fantastic that the new facility will meet Queensland’s future needs with innovation in sustainable agriculture and horticulture as we move to a greener tomorrow.”
The courses would include training in modern primary industry technologies such as high yield urban farming containers, smart bots and aerial drones for land use and mapping.
“Modern equipment and technologies such as video analysis of cattle in simulated saleyard environments will enhance the student experience and place TAFE Queensland at the forefront of rural delivery,” Ms Fentiman said.
The plans also include upgrading the existing B Block for an additional 200 students in non-trade courses such as nursing, aged care and allied services, as well as trade training courses through the partnership with the Australian Industry Trade College.
“There is something for everyone at TAFE, and we are making it easier by providing courses free for kids leaving year 12,” the minister said.
“We’ve made enrolment free in 160 courses across high priority industries where job opportunities are available to people with the right training.
“24 of those courses are offered right here at Toowoomba TAFE across horticulture, rural operations, and aged care and support,” she said.
“This is providing young people in Toowoomba with the practical hands on skills they need to create a great future here in the region.”
The redevelopment of the Toowoomba campus is part of the Palaszczuk Government’s Advancing Our Training Infrastructure (AOTI) initiative.
TAFE Queensland Toowoomba has been earmarked as a priority campus under the AOTI, which represents an investment of up to $85 million to modernise TAFE Queensland campuses over the next three years.
Early works are planned for late 2018, with construction to be under way by early 2019 and completion in the second half of the year.