Monday, 26 July 2010
Students find vast career opportunities in Rural Australia
By Zuzanna Kamusinski
In April 2008, the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) warned that as Australian farmers emerge from drought, rural areas will be short of approximately 100,000 employees. Two years onward, regional Australia continues its struggle to attract the large number of skilled and experienced professionals, needed to attain pre-drought production levels and maintain community growth.
Acknowledging the importance of rural community sustainment in Australia, metropolitan-based university students are being offered work experience positions with rural and regional businesses through a Brisbane-based initiative called ‘The Brolga Project’.
Recognising the skills shortage in rural and regional Australia, and the difficulty faced by university students to find adequate work experience to support of their studies, The Brolga Project links the two together. The mind behind the concept, Project Manager Richard Cowley, developed the idea in response to his own experience as a university student seeking practical work placement. A Cunnamulla-born ‘man of the bush’ himself, Mr Cowley launched the project in 2008.
“Rural and regional is not just about country and cows, there is an incredible range of career opportunities,” Mr Cowley explains.
The Brolga Project is recognised by a number of universities across Australia, including Queensland University of Technology, University of Queensland, University of New England and James Cook University. As of July 2010, over 40 students will have received a rural work experience placement through The Brolga Project.
It was in fact through The Brolga Project that two recent work experience placements in the South West Queensland town of Quilpie were made possible.
On Thursday 1 July, Queensland University of Technology students, Jesse Frain and Zuzanna Kamusinski embarked on what would prove to be an unforgettable work-experience opportunity. Mr Frain and Miss Kamusinski travelled 900 kilometres west of Brisbane to meet with the Quilpie Shire Council, their employer for the two-week work experience placement.
"At first it was a little daunting, the thought coming out to Quilpie, wondering what type of work I'll be doing and whether the people will be nice," said Mr Frain. "But once out there, everything fell into place. Our accommodation was good and the laid-back lifestyle was fantastic - our first night in town, we were out having a few drinks with the Deputy CEO."
Currently in his third year of Civil Engineering, Mr Frain was introduced to the men in charge of the civil works around the region. Over the course of the placement Mr Frain travelled with a contract engineer on site visits to the surrounding towns. He worked on re-development projects arising from the recent South West Queensland floods and was given the opportunity to personally design a plan, which will see the construction of wetlands for water reuse.
"I was given some pretty important responsibilities, which really got me into the tasks. I enjoyed the challenge,” said Mr Frain.
Miss Kamusinski, a first-year Mass Communication student, worked alongside the Council’s tourism department and “enjoyed the experience more than I could have ever imagined.”
“We were met with the most welcoming atmosphere as soon as we arrived and the local people quickly accepted us into their ‘family’,” she said. “I learnt a lot about tourism, public relations and marketing, and was assigned tasks - like creating a marketing plan for Quilpie Shire and a magazine advertisement to promote tourism - which will definitely help me with similar university assignments.”
The Brolga Project is proudly supported by Local Intelligence, an advocate and proud ambassador for rural and regional communities and the role these communities play in the future sustainability of the planet and global societies.
With over 600 students on its books, The Brolga Project is campaigning to place at least 100 enthusiastic candidates in rural work experience placements by the end of 2010. To achieve this aim, The Brolga Project is seeking the support of host agencies from regional and rural communities nationwide.
For more information please contact:
Helping Build Capacity in Rural and Regional Australia by...
'Regional Skills Shortage' - Australia & the World