The Gold Coast’s booming $1.4 billion education sector is set to benefit from an Australian-first employability initiative, Study Gold Coast Employability Program, launched by Study Gold Coast and Mayor Tom Tate.
It follows new research commissioned by peak education body Study Gold Coast that shows 30 per cent of organisations don’t offer internships or work placements, while 45 per cent don't offer graduate positions.
Study Gold Coast Chief Executive Officer Shannon Willoughby, said the study-work chasm presents a valuable opportunity for employers and students.
“The Gold Coast is uniquely positioned to improve our efforts and reputation in student employability and this program will significantly enhance opportunities across the sector,” said Ms Willoughby.
“Our city loses valuable talent every year to capital cities as graduates seek careers elsewhere and this trend must be reversed. We have a city thriving on innovation and our focus is to harness our reputation as Australia’s favourite classroom and convert that learning to jobs.”
The Gold Coast education sector is booming with around $754 million derived from international students – making it a pivotal economic pillar alongside the traditional tourism and property drivers.
Mayor Tom Tate congratulated Study Gold Coast for becoming the first regional study cluster to launch a city-wide initiative that would ‘introduce the classroom to the real world’.
“This is exciting not just for students but also for prospective employers who are looking to bolster productivity and innovation,” he said.
“The Study Gold Coast employability program will strengthen the link between education and business, address the skills gaps and ensure that our students are given the best chance to kick-start their careers on the Gold Coast.
The research also shows more than half of the organisations surveyed weren’t aware of mentoring programs offered by education institutions, while 45 per cent said accessing suitable students for internships or work placements is ‘moderate to difficult’.
“Employability prospects are a key driver of choice for many students when choosing a study destination and currently the Gold Coast isn’t perceived well in this regard,” said Ms Willoughby.
“Of the organisations surveyed, 32.5 per cent don't know or are unsure how to recruit talent via our education institutions, while less than 40 per cent work with education institutions to recruit graduates.
“Many organisations struggle to find talent, especially in building and construction, commerce, digital media, education and training and property services.
“Students add great value to organisations and the data supports this with 67 per cent of employers saying there’s benefit to taking on interns or graduates. We just need to link them together.”
Study Gold Coast has identified vast potential in the education and training sector, aiming to make it a top three employer by 2020.
The sector is currently the city’s fifth largest employing sector, accounting for 7.9 per cent of employment (or 24,500 people).
Education and training contributes more than $1.4 billion to the Gold Coast economy (2014/2015). Over the past decade, it has experienced strong growth and seen the value it contributes to the economy increase by around $460 million (or 47 per cent).
“The coast is recognised globally for providing quality education and training, innovation and opportunity with the backdrop of an unrivalled destination,” said Ms Willoughby.
“It’s an exciting time as the Gold Coast moves into the next phase of its life cycle with education a key economic and social pillar. With an increased number of students and knowledge workers, the benefits to the economy will soar.”
Opportunities will continue to arise with the development of the Heath & Knowledge precinct with more than 9,200 jobs within the precinct and the potential for more than 11,000. Meanwhile, 15,000 volunteer spots and 250 internships will be offered within GOLDOC for the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games and more with Games delivery partners.