TOP-CLASS VISION: Time to lure leavers back to region
THE Bundaberg region needs an education system that prepares students for the workplaces of the future.
Leading demographer Bernard Salt says it's vital the region is "best in class” in education and training to ensure the current flow of teenagers don't have to leave to make a successful life.
Mr Salt said the training needed to be across the spectrum from medical and professional services through to Tafe courses.
Part of his analysis of data of the Wide Bay region for the NewsMail's Future Bundaberg series shows a significant drop as teenagers move away to seek further education and employment.
Though the data indicates people do come back, it's at a much later stage in life (see accompanying graphic).
A big part of the problem is job availability with the Wide Bay region's youth unemployment rate just under 20 per cent.
"As with many regional centres in Australia there is an outpouring of youth after secondary school in Bundaberg as young people seek to test their mettle in Brisbane and beyond,” Mr Salt said.
"This is fine, and in fact is a rite of passage in Australia.
"But I think Wide Bay should actively campaign to attract them back with skills, with a partner, and with hopes and aspirations.”
He said our youngsters needed to know they were respected by staying and not made to feel they could only make a success of life "someplace else”.
"I say we should be right now focused on the 10-year future horizon, discussing the kind of society we want for our kids, and then damn well going out there and delivering the future we want,” Mr Salt said.
"And I think that what we all want is to have opportunity for our kids so that they don't feel compelled to go elsewhere.
"Some will. Some won't come back. But let's celebrate those who do come back. Let's celebrate those who build a business locally and who invest their youth and energy into our community.
"It is our job to enable the next generation to flourish locally.
"It is our job - as middle-aged managers and administrators - to create the society that will enable the next generation to flourish locally.”