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Skills shortage solution has broad implications

SmartCompany /

The Federal Government’s plans to incorporate technical colleges into high schools to address the skills shortage could significantly change not just the high school system but also affect the property market.

The Government pledged in the election campaign to keep the Howard government’s Australian Technical Colleges, but plans to fold them into the $2.5 billion commitment to build a trades training centre in each of the nation’s 2650 secondary schools.

However the details of how this will be achieved have been sparse.

Yesterday the Rudd Government announced that it was already negotiating to incorporate an Australian Technical College (ATC) into a state high school.

Education minister Julia Gillard announced that the Gladstone ATC in central Queensland was being turned into a new campus at Gladstone High School. A spokesman for Gillard says that the Government had to move fast on this particular issue because the Gladstone ATC did not achieve accreditation to open as a non-government school in 2008.

He says Gillard says that while Labor has committed to keep the current contracts of the technical colleges, there is a lot of work being done on how to marry them into the system. “We want to avoid duplication between the technical colleges, the schools and TAFE.”

It will depend in each area on a range of factors, like the range of certificates available, the type of facilities and the availability of teachers, he says.

The spokesman says the process of combining the systems has begun with information being sought and stakeholders consulted.

And the thorny question of which high school should specialise in which trade?

Critics have pointed out that students who may want to study a specific trade will be disadvantaged if their local high school specialises in a different trade.

However the spokesperson points out that a cluster schools system may be introduced so that students can go to the local school in their area that matches their requirements.

This could have a longer term impact on the property market as families seek to be nearer to high schools that teach popular trades.

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