RDA Townsville and North West Queensland has, with local partners, identified strategic opportunities to leverage economic growth. As a priority, the requirement to develop a skilled and educated workforce to seize opportunities for economic development in the region has been highlighted.

For advice on addressing the need for these workers, RDA T&NWQ looked to counter-part RDA Hunter because of its track record in designing and implementing industry-skilling and workforce development programs.

As a result, in August 2019, the Regional Development Australia (RDA) offices in Hunter and Townsville signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to collaborate on the development of a program to grow the skilled workforce in Queensland’s North and North West regions.

The MOU between RDAs Hunter and Townsville & North West Queensland formalises cross-regional idea-sharing and will build partnerships that result in the roll-out of a North and North West Queensland program. The Program will: increase the uptake of STEM subjects at the region’s high schools; increase student awareness of employment pathways; facilitate student opportunities for hands-on experiences in industry; and establish student mentoring and networking opportunities within the region.

“RDA Townsville and North West Queensland’s STEM workforce program objectives match the Hunter’s, so it is logical for us to share the knowledge we’ve gleaned over many years of success in developing a skilled, homegrown Hunter Workforce with our RDA colleagues,” said RDA Hunter’s Executive Officer & Director of Regional Development, Mr Trevor John.

RDA Townsville and North West Queensland’s Chief Executive Officer Ms Glenys Schuntner observed: “The RDA Hunter program provides us with a great foundation to build upon. We can learn from its successes, adapt it to suit our local industries like defence, mining, agriculture, advanced manufacturing and IT and apply it across our vast region as a pilot for the north”.

Following months of planning, on Tuesday 19th November, RDA Townsville & North West Queensland hosted RDA Hunter at its stakeholder roundtable session to progress plans for a local workforce development project that will meet the needs of industry in Townsville and surrounds.

The roundtable session built on discussions held at Townsville Enterprise Limited’s STEAM in Regions Forum held in Townsville on Monday 18th November where RDA Hunter’s STEM Workforce Manager, Rick Evans presented a case study on RDA Hunter’s successful ME Program. Roundtable participants expanded on elements of the RDA Hunter presentation and emphasised the benefit of RDA collaborations to share knowledge and experience to implement effective programs.

“Building capacity across regions contributes to a stronger Australian economy and RDA Hunter is extremely supportive of collaboration through the national RDA network to help build confident regional economies. We’re working with as many RDAs as we can to share the valuable expertise we’ve gained since 2009 to support industry-led workforce development and we’re hoping to learn many new lessons from other regions as well.” Mr John continued.

“We have engaged locally with key stakeholders from industry, education and government sectors and have been overwhelmed with the level of interest and support to take this initiative forward to address an emerging skills shortage and the future of work in the region,” said Ms Schuntner.