Shepparton News

Focusing on nation building

- SAM BIRRELL

I visited Adelaide last month to catch up with the other committees for cities.

This is always a fascinatin­g forum: to see what issues and projects consume other regions in Australia and New Zealand and compare approaches.

The Committee for Canterbury (Christchur­chbased) is still focused on the substantia­l replan and rebuild of the city after the 2010 and 2011 earthquake­s.

Sydney is working through a three-city centres plan which is critical to the future operation of the city.

Think about Sydney — there is nowhere for the city to grow to the east (Pacific Ocean) and the expansion to the west is limited (Blue Mountains).

Rather than have everyone live in the west and travel to Sydney city, they are building CBD areas in Paramatta and Penrith.

Gippsland is working through post-Hazelwood closure, and Geelong on the concept of second-tier cities.

One of the most interestin­g part of Adelaide’s economy is the naval ship building industry, based in Osborne, in the northern suburbs.

Current projects, such as maintenanc­e of the Collins class submarine, are undertaken at the Australian Submarine Corporatio­n facility there, but the industry is gearing up for some major operations into the future.

The new Australian submarine project, where the French company DCNS will build 12 new submarines, is being negotiated and the Hunter Class Frigate Program is due to start in 2020.

The potential roadblock for this economic activity is skills, so the Australian Government has set up the Naval Shipbuildi­ng College.

The pipeline of skills required, from engineers to electricia­ns to specialist welders (submarine welding can be bit more hightech than cattle yards), is being mapped, and schools are being engaged to find and develop students who may have an aptitude and interest in skills required.

North Adelaide has been an economical­ly depressed area for a number of years, and it stands to reason that it is better (though more challengin­g) to develop our young people who rely totally on skilled migration.

With the large infrastruc­ture projects happening in Greater Shepparton over the next 10 years, I see the Adelaide ship building model of work pathways as having relevance to us.

We have significan­t projects building hospitals, rail lines and roads, to name just a few.

Add to that the staffing of the hospital, aged care and other allied health, and there are several opportunit­ies that will require STEM (science, technology, engineerin­g and maths) soft/ people skills and critical thinking to problem solve in these new industries.

The GROW project (Greater Regional Opportunit­ies for Work) that the Committee for Greater Shepparton is running over the next three years will aim to help develop this pipeline and move our young people into employment pathways.

There are already some great initiative­s under way here to build on.

The common factor after meeting with the other cities and regions’ representa­tives is that though the issues are different, we are all contributi­ng to nation building.

The education and capability of the next generation will dictate how well we do this. ● Sam Birrell is the Committee for Greater Shepparton’s chief executive.

 ?? Picture: AAP ?? Prime aim: Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull on a tour of the Australian Submarine Corporatio­n ship building facility in Adelaide in 2016. The industry is gearing up for some major operations into the future — there could be lessons for Shepparton in their approach.
Picture: AAP Prime aim: Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull on a tour of the Australian Submarine Corporatio­n ship building facility in Adelaide in 2016. The industry is gearing up for some major operations into the future — there could be lessons for Shepparton in their approach.
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