Funding hope for power demand
WITH the shortage of trained people becoming a constraint on growth in a range of industries, a wave of partnerships has developed between educational institutions and privatesector organisations.
A key aspect of these partnerships is the offer of scholarships as an incentive to skills formation.
One example is an agreement between the Australian National University College of Engineering and Computer Science and the Australian Computer Society Foundation to provide scholarships of between $ 12,000 and $ 15,000 to combine relevant work experience and study. The program involves students spending two days a week in local businesses while completing their degree.
‘‘ Everyone’s a winner with this work placement program,’’ said ANU vice- chancellor Ian Chubb, who is also chairman of the ACT Skills Commission. ‘‘ Students get the chance to enhance their skills in a real workplace, and employers will have access to very bright and motivated students, to develop relationships with those who may very well be future employees.’’
Professor Chubb said the program would be particularly attractive to students from rural and regional areas, going some way to offsetting the costs they face in moving to the ACT for study purposes.
The Australian Computer Society Foundation has established a similar scheme with the University of Canberra. The ‘‘ work- integrated learning scholarship program’’ will run for an initial period of three years, with the university funding five scholarships of $ 2000 each year.
Working with the ACS Foundation, the university hopes to find additional donor organisations to contribute further scholarships and work placements.
Across the country, the University of Western Australia and Western Power will offer a new scholarship program from next year in a bid to reverse the increasing shortage of electrical engineers.
Western Power will fund 20 scholarships worth $ 2000 per year to the best first- year engineering students at UWA who start their studies in electrical engineering next year. The scholarships will also be offered for each year after that for students who continue their studies in the electrical power discipline.
‘‘ There is a long- term unmet demand for more electrical engineers, and we hope that this program will begin to address that,’’ said Gary Bundell, UWA’s head of electrical, electronic and computer engineering.
‘‘ The power industry is increasingly aware of the skills crisis, and we are seeking other sponsors to widen the range of scholarships we can offer.’’