REGIONAL councils will be among the biggest winners when Charles Sturt University’s Bathurst campus starts an engineering degree in 2016.
A feature of the new course will be guaranteed work placements for students once they complete their studies, with many of the young engineers to find jobs in local government.
Senior staff at Bathurst Regional Council have long complained about the difficulty they face attracting young engineers, but the cadet work placements through the CSU course are set to remedy that problem.
A spokesman said council had been working with CSU for a number of years to develop an engineering course.
“Council has a staff workforce and industry plan that indicates there’s a shortage of qualified engineers and this is particularly so in regional areas,” the spokesman said.
“The offer of a course by CSU will help address this because CSU has a great history of graduates going on to work in regional areas once they leave uni.”
Council currently employs five engineering cadets who are studying through the University of New England and University of Southern Queensland and it’s likely they will transfer to CSU.
The students complete work placement at council as part of their studies.
CSU vice-chancellor Professor Andrew Vann said the new course would build “human capital as well as physical infrastructure” in regional areas.
“Communities will benefit from having skilled, entrepreneurial professionals that contribute to their local economy, rather than depart for metropolitan opportunities,” he said.
Professor Euan Lindsay, who will be CSU’s foundation Professor of Engineering, said CSU would help meet an increased demand for engineers created by the NSW Government’s plans to invest $6 billion in regional infrastructure in coming years.
“Engineering projects work best when the engineers understand the needs of the communities whose problems they are solving,” he said.
“Educating engineers in a regional context will contribute to the sustainability of the professional workforce in the regions, and will ensure that the state has the capacity to maintain current and future infrastructure investments.
“Of particular benefit is the ability to reduce the reliance on fly in/fly out operators for maintaining regional infrastructure. It is of no help to regional communities if jobs are created and then taken by professionals from elsewhere; indeed the potential overall negative impact of FIFO operations is well understood.”