Speech on Runcorn State High School, Parliament House

Mr PERRETT (MoretonOpposition Whip) (12:06): Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker Georganas. It is always good to speak before you, and welcome back to this wonderful place.

Recently, I attended the official opening of the Metro South Engineering Trade Skills Centre at Runcorn State High School. Runcorn High is already well advanced in offering its students practical training for the modern workforce. Runcorn High is a manufacturing and engineering gateway school. It provides career opportunities for students to enter the manufacturing and engineering industries. The Queensland government—in particular the Minister for Education, Kate Jones, and the Minister for Training and Skills, Queensland Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath—have collaborated with Manufacturing Skills Queensland to implement the Gateway Schools project. Gateway Schools provide students with learning experiences and opportunities to enter the manufacturing and engineering industries through trade, paraprofessional and professional career pathways. These schools have an innovative curriculum structure and embed manufacturing and engineering industry related content into the school's core curriculum. Runcorn High is one of 14 Queensland high schools involved in the Gateway Schools project and is the only school participating in South-East Queensland. The opening marked the completion of a Trade Skills Centre at Runcorn High, and it will now be putting its students through the incredible trade training facilities on site.

Runcorn High's new Trade Skills Centre was built with Commonwealth government funding, part of Labor's 2007 Trade Training Centres in Schools election commitment. The Attorney-General of Queensland, Yvette D'Ath, was elected to the federal parliament at the same time as me, 2007, so she well knows this election commitment and Labor's commitment. The Rudd government's 2008-09 budget provided $2.5 billion over 10 years to implement this program. Four rounds of phase 1 of the program were completed under the Labor government. Sadly, the coalition government announced in 2013 that funding for the trade training centres would cease following round 5 of phase 1 and the projects will now be known as Trades Skills Centres.

The objectives of the Labor program included: addressing skills shortages in traditional trades and other eligible occupations by improving student access to trade training facilities that meet industry standards; improving the quality of schooling offered to secondary students undertaking trade related pathways; and assisting young people to make a successful transition from school to work or further education or training. The Runcorn High facility that I inspected will make an enormous difference for these young students' futures. The Runcorn High site was opened by the Assistant Minister for Vocational Education and Skills, Karen Andrews, and we were joined at the event by the state member for Sunnybank, Peter Russo, and the state member for Bulimba, Di Farmer. The Runcorn High principal, Jo Soothill, proudly showed off her school to visitors from Yeronga State High School and Balmoral State High School. These two other Trades Skills centres are clustering together. The principals, Terry Heath from Yeronga State High School and Linda Galloway from Balmoral State High School, were there to witness the opening of the Runcorn facility, and we actually did three plaques all at once.

I met Michael, a grade 10 student at Runcorn State High School, who was very proud to show me around the workshops and equipment. Michael said he was looking forward to the workshops starting so that he could actually help to build a Formula One race car—parked outside the facility was a Formula One race car. Yes, one of the programs that will be offered at Runcorn High will be the Formula High School program, which will teach students engineering skills and practices while they build a race car, which is a little bit more exciting than the coffee table I made when I did woodwork! This is not just fun; the students will find it informative and transformative. Students who undertake the Formula High School program will be completing a Certificate II in Engineering Pathways, an engineering qualification that will prep them for a range of occupations. They will also learn practical general work, ready knowledge and team-building skills. These are all attributes an employer would be eager to see in any prospective employee. Perhaps the coalition opposite might like to consider sending Senator Abetz, the member for Warringah, Senator Bernardi or even the member for Dawson to work on their team-building skills at Runcorn high school. I am sure they would be welcome.

It is unfortunate that the coalition government does not follow its own jobs and growth mantra. If there is one initiative that will create jobs and growth, it is addressing the skills shortage in traditional trades. Industry knows that, and the Trades Skills centres will help do that. Sadly, the coalition government, when it took office, axed the funding for many more of these centres. I am pleased that students in my electorate attending the Runcorn High— (Time expired)