Page 3342 - Week 11 - Tuesday, 22 September 2015

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The tertiary education sector is crucial to the Canberra economy as we strive to become the knowledge capital of Australia—the clever capital. Therefore, this new ANU and UC double degree will help science students get into teaching more easily, quickly and cheaply. This is another milestone in the history of collaboration between Canberra’s two leading universities. This degree will make sure that students can kick-start their careers in science teaching, as well as helping Australia to address the growing need for more science teachers as the economy continues to modernise.

These skills will provide our future workforce with the strong scientific and technical skills necessary to continue growing and diversifying Canberra’s economy. Higher education already contributes $2.7 billion to Canberra’s economy every year, with one in every nine Canberrans studying or employed in the sector.

I also take this time to praise the Canberra Institute of Technology, the CIT, as an essential part of our tertiary and vocational education sector and an important pathway for many Canberrans to higher education. It is essential to the Canberra economy and provides our industries with the skills they need. It gives students in our community new skills and training in high quality, purpose-built facilities.

The CIT is the largest and longest serving provider of vocational education in the ACT, with over 30,000 student enrolments. CIT is a heavy lifter of education in the ACT. Yet the Liberals, to use Mr Hockey’s phrase, do not treat it as a lifter but as one of the leaners; something to be marginalised and continually dragged down. The CIT is the institution the Canberra Liberals forgot in their policies at the last election. Mr Hanson’s Liberals, like their federal and interstate counterparts, neither care about publicly provided vocational education nor understand its importance to the Canberra community and our economy.

With its reputation for quality teaching, CIT enjoys the trust and respect of the ACT community and continues to supply the majority of the skilled workers in the ACT. We in the ACT government will help to further build and expand this reputation. This trust is reflected in student satisfaction rates, employer satisfaction rates and graduate employment rates. Let me give you some of those statistics, Madam Assistant Speaker. In 2014, the student satisfaction rate was 91 per cent, the employer satisfaction rate was 85 per cent and the graduate employment rate was 87.4 per cent. These statistics are consistently well above the national averages.

This year’s budget also builds on these successes, with a significant investment of $10.7 million over four years for a new CIT campus in the Tuggeranong town centre. The provision of VET through CIT continues to be an important element in the ACT government’s commitment to assist in training a highly skilled workforce to support the ACT economy.

I am very proud of the CIT facilities in my electorate at Bruce as one of CIT’s largest campuses, centrally located in east Belconnen. It is part of the Bruce learning hub that also includes UC, Calvary and the Australian Institute of Sport. It is a major centre of the knowledge capital, and ties together a diverse hub of learning, training, health and hi-tech institutions. CIT Bruce has courses and facilities dedicated to training in sustainability-related majors and plays a vital role in developing Canberra as a world leader in renewable energy.

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