Fund­ing hope for power de­mand

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Scholarships - Derek Parker

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.’’

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