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Vocational Education and Training – Shortage in practical skill training for electronic engineering students and graduates

The Hon. A.L. McLACHLAN ( 15:24 ): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Employment and Higher Education Skills a question regarding skills shortages in South Australia.

Leave granted.

The Hon. A.L. McLACHLAN: It was reported in The Advertiser late last year that the Adelaide-based manufacturer Tomco Technologies specialises in the design and manufacture of radio frequency power amplifiers for scientific and commercial uses, MRI machines and radars used in weather prediction and climate change research. The article described how Tomco has bucked recent trends in manufacturing by doubling its workforce over the last year after securing new export contracts from the US, Germany and Russia.

Despite this, however, the company may still be forced to relocate overseas due to a severe shortage of skills coming out of South Australian universities. Tomco’s chief executive, Dr Janice Reed, has stated that finding suitably qualified staff in South Australia has been an infuriating process as many electronic engineers and technicians have very little hands on experience, and that this shortage may cause the company to relocate to the US.

My question to the minister is: can the minister advise the chamber what measures the government is taking or considering taking to address the lack of practical skills training provided to electronic engineering students and graduates?

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