Number of Primary Schools - 30
Number of High Schools - 15
University Campuses - 1
GSIT Campuses - 4
% Year 12 Students Obtaining ATAR - 48.8%
Largest Employers - Dept's Health and Education
There are a total of 45 schools providing education in the Great Southern. Recent research undertaken suggests that the Great Southern achieves Year 12 attainment level 7% lower than the Australian average. Education delivery is variable across the Great Southern and Western Australia due to geographical factors, transport infrastructure, local workforce demands, the socio-economic index, community structures, and numerous other reasons.
The Australian Early Development Index (AEDI) data indicated that at a national level, 23.6 per cent of children were vulnerable in one or more domain and 11.8 per cent were vulnerable in two or more domains. Great Southern AEDIs found the communities of Jerramungup, Albany and Denmark had the lowest proportions of vulnerable children for the region, less than the national rates on both measures. However, the AEDI communities of Katanning and Cranbrook had the highest proportions of vulnerable children—more than the national averages on both measures.
Recent National Assessment Program in Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) results for most Great Southern schools suggest student skills are below average from Year 3 in reading, persuasive writing, spelling, grammar and punctuation, and numeracy, when compared to all school averages. Positive NAPLAN results are seen in pockets of the Great Southern, including the Tambellup, Bremer Bay and Frankland schools. These results advocate for strong consideration to be given to enriching the student learning environment (both at home and at school) and improvement of education delivery across the Great Southern.
Vocational Education Training (VET) in schools and pathways to higher education through the Great Southern Institute of Technology (GSIT) are a major focus for young people not moving straight from school to university. The GSIT has strong linkages with VET across the region, with campuses at Albany, Denmark, Katanning and Mt Barker. GSIT is a State Government funded provider of vocational education and training. The institute offers a range of qualifications from Certificate I to Advanced Diploma, and customised training for industry. A new $3.5 million Health and Community Services training arm funded by the Federal Government under the Trade Training Centre in Schools Program has been established at the North Albany High School (NASHS).
The University of Western Australia provides limited options in tertiary education and has strong linkages with the Rural Medical School, Curtin University, and a locally based Centre of Excellence in NRM, a cooperative partnership that undertakes innovative research to make a significant and recognised contribution in addressing Australia’s natural resource management problems.
In the Great Southern, 48.8% of Year 12 students achieved an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank in 2011, compared to 54.3% of students in 2010, suggesting a lower proportion of Great Southern students are seeking admission to university courses and may be looking at choosing other education, work experience, or more direct employment options.
There are many training opportunities available to Great Southern residents, including the use of GSIT vocational training in new areas with employers, to deliver on direct outcomes improving student job prospects post-training. The Trade Training Centre mentioned above will provide employers with access to trained nurses, aged care and hospitality students. GSIT aims to proceed with infrastructure development to allow the Institute to respond to the region’s training expectations, improve qualification levels of Aboriginal students and ensure accessibility to student entitlements and income contingent loans.
There are several training organisations that are active in the Great Southern, with Skill Hire Pty Ltd and ATC Worksmart the two major registered group training organisations in the Great Southern. A number of other vocational education and training organisations provide an important service for young, disabled or disengaged workers throughout the Great Southern.
The Great Southern may follow similar national trends across Australia, with growth in health care, social assistance, retail trade and construction expected to increase. Employment in manufacturing is expected to continue to decline in employment share, consistent with longer term structural changes in that sector. Agriculture, forestry and fishing employment is also projected to fall; this reflects a continuation of the industry’s long-term decline in employment share.
The main industry sectors employing people in the Great Southern include the:
- Agriculture, farming and fishing industry;
- Retail sector, and
- Growing Government services sector including health, education, public administration and safety.
The labour force in the Great Southern region has increased by 5,764 people from 2002 to 2013 and has remained stable as a proportion of WA’s total workforce at 2.5%. Health and community services, construction, retail trade, manufacturing and the agriculture, farming and fishing industry sectors were the leading employers.
Most employers in the Great Southern are involved with the agriculture, forestry and fishing, construction and property services sectors, with a high proportion of employees currently employed by Government Departments within the City of Albany.
As part of the Federal Government’s national employment services, Jobs Services Australia providers are located in the Great Southern to provide both jobseekers and employers with a free and personalised service to match people to jobs.
An increasing number of businesses in the health care and social assistance and education and training sectors are reflective of both the State Government’s commitment to increase spending in these areas and our ageing population. A breakdown of the number of businesses in the Great Southern region by industry sector is provided in Table 9.
Labourers, tradespersons and related workers and professionals feature as the main people employed by businesses in the Great Southern region, with 46% of the workforce aged over 45 years.
The unemployment rate of 5.5% in the region is similar to the national average of 5.4%, but higher than the Western Australia average of 4.4%. The number of businesses operating in agriculture, fisheries and forestry remains dominant in the Great Southern. Improvements in technology and production costs and the take up of farms by larger operations have impacted on workforce requirements. The period 2006 to 2011 has shown nominally positive trends in trades, professional, administrative and community and personal service work employment.
The anticipated progressive introduction of mining activities across the Great Southern has not occurred due to the global financial situation, commodity prices and the high Australian dollar. Both the Ausgold operation in Katanning and the Grange Southdown Project at Wellstead are experiencing delays.
With around two-thirds of employers in the Southern Employment Service Area reporting difficulty recruiting and around 8.7% of vacancies in this area remaining unfilled, mining companies will have to adopt suitable recruitment programs to fill their workforce needs, and this may be to the detriment of the agricultural trades and other industries operating in the Great Southern.