Knowledge workforce
  • Last updated:
  • 01 May 2020

Supporting the region's knowledge workforce 

This second post features programs and initiatives from the second category of our successful Top7 Intelligent Community award submission: showcasing how our region is developing our knowledge workforce, preparing students for future careers, the pathways to higher education and our award-winning educational institutions. 


Investment in talent and skills is one of the five critical pathways defined in the Regional Economic Development Strategy (REDS) 2013-2033. Our economy is expected to change significantly in the next two decades, with strong demand for professionals, community and personal service workers and managers over the coming 20 years.

Our education and training sector is equipped with the facilities and capabilities to provide a range of regional training and career planning activities to boost the foundations of the Sunshine Coast’s labour force and economy.

Work has occurred since 2013 to recalibrate aspects of the education and training sector’s offerings to ensure these are clearly targeted to address critical gaps in the region’s workforce profile. This will also assist in developing viable options for our population and meaningful career pathways within the region.

Regional snapshot

  • 83,000+ students studying at local schools, university or one of the region’s 150 Registered Training Organisations
  • 80+ public and private schools
  • 5000+ apprentices and traineeships
  • Approximately 98% of Year 12 school leavers graduated with a recognised qualification (QCCA, February 2017)
  • 13,000 students graduate every year with vocational degrees

Outcomes since 2013

  • Study Sunshine Coast is the region’s key student attraction and retention program aimed at increasing both the number of international students, as well as retaining local students into future pathways.
  • Education Sunshine Coast is the peak body for advocacy and promotion, consisting of high-level members from all the region’s key education providers.
  • Our Future Careers program highlights the impact that technology and innovation will have on the region’s seven high value industries and jobs of the future.
  • Annual BiG Day In digital careers conference allows students in Years 9-12 and educators from across the Sunshine Coast to benefit from the insights of experienced technology professionals from a range of global companies.
  • The annual JobShow brings the community together to address the issues of unemployment and available jobs throughout the region.
  • Local industry and community leaders drove the introduction of the Australian Industry Trade College Sunshine Coast campus which offers Year 10-12 students the opportunity to complete their Queensland Certificate of Education while starting a school-based apprenticeship in the trade of their choice.
  • Sunshine Coast - Future proofing our workforce: In 2018, council commissioned a research paper into the future job requirements and opportunities for the region, the impacts of digital disruption to education and the future of work.

Future-proofing our next generation

The Sunshine Coast is a tech-savvy region with a reputation for innovation and leadership in STEM education. Continued investment in talent and skills prepares our future workforce with the knowledge and experience needed to compete in a global marketplace.

DeLorean Project

In 2016, Glasshouse Christian College introduced the DeLorean Project to provide opportunities for students to learn and develop the capabilities and skills they’ll need to effectively navigate their way through the workforce of the future.

The program allows Year 10 students in the cohort one day per week during the school year to negotiate and implement their own learning projects.

  • More than 300 students have participated
  • Approximately 80 startups have been supported since its inception.

RoboClub: Chancellor State College

RoboClub is a powerful community of some of the region’s brightest and most innovative young minds. Students participate in a wide range of events and competitions, from entrepreneurial competitions to the FIRST suite of robotics events.

With these skills in hand, the students have become excellent role models for our region, state and nation as representatives overseas, at national awards ceremonies and as ambassadors within our community.

  • RoboKings, RoboKnights and RoboMonarchs will represent Australia at NASA in Houston in April 2020 - an unprecedented level of achievement from a single school in the last 30 years.
  • RoboRoyals: 2019 FIRST Lego League World Festival 2nd Place Gracious Professionalism award; GovHack Best International Youth Team; 2019 GovHack Sunshine Coast community winners.
  • RoboKings: 2019 Mayor’s Telstra Innovation Awards second place; Queensland FIRST Tech Challenge State Championships Inspire Award winners.


RoboCoast is a hub of Sunshine Coast state and private schools promoting the uptake of robotics and coding in the region through staff and student training days, visits and a range of fun robotics competitions such as RoboRave Australia. Between 2017-2019:

  • 3206 students impacted
  • 755 staff reached
  • 170 schools taught

ZEST Robotics

Working closely with RoboCoast, the team delivers programs to budding female engineers, coders, and mechatronics studies.

RoboRave Australia

RoboCoast has partnered with USC (University of the Sunshine Coast) and Sunshine Coast Regional Innovation Project Team (SCRIPT) to host the inaugural RoboRAVE Australia - a large international robotics tournament - in May 2020.

Coding and Innovation Hub

Mountain Creek State High School established the Coding and Innovation Hub in 2015 to:

  • provide professional development opportunities for teachers
  • promote the introduction of lean startup and design principles
  • develop partnerships that allow for greater engagement between schools and the wider community
  • provide opportunities in advanced coding for students from across the Sunshine Coast.

St Andrew’s Anglican College

The college’s research and innovation unit, the St Andrew’s Institute of Learning (SAIL), partners with universities and leading organisations from across the globe, allowing the college to keep up to date with the latest in technology and 21st Century skills to prepare its students for the world of tomorrow.

Advanced education opportunities


Opening its doors in 1996, USC was at the time the first greenfield public university to be established in Australia since the early 1970s. Today, with more than 17,800 enrolled students, the university is on track to be a comprehensive multi-campus university growing towards 35,000 students.

  • The Engage Research Lab investigates and develops interactive technologies such as computer games, smartphone and tablet applications, social media and artworks, where users can become involved, informed and inspired to change the world.
  • CAVE2™ is a state-of-the-art, 5-Star Green Star rated Engineering Learning Hub (ELH) with three cutting-edge visualisation facilities providing a hybrid of 2D and 3D virtual reality learning environments. The largest of these facilities is the Visualisation Studio which houses the CAVE2: Cave Automated Virtual Environment.
  • Sunshine Coast Mind and Neuroscience– Thompson Institute is a hub for world-class mental health research, teaching and clinical services. To date, $20.4 million of external revenue has been brought into the region for research and clinical services from philanthropic contributions and government support. The Institute has forecast an additional $15.9 million for 2020 to further develop its capacity as a world-leading research facility in mind and neuroscience.
  • USC is a roundtable partner in the Sunshine Coast Regional Innovation Project Team (SCRIPT) and led the design of the Regional Innovation Benchmark as a core SCRIPT project.

TAFE Queensland East Coast

The East Coast region is the largest in Queensland, with 3 campuses on the Sunshine Coast, including the Sunshine Coast Health Institute.

TAFE East Coast has been working alongside key stakeholders across the region to ensure education is at the forefront of the conversation regarding the changing innovation ecosystem. As a key SCRIPT partner, TAFE East Coast works collaboratively in support of projects to connect, educate and inspire members of the Sunshine Coast community.

Sunshine Coast Health Institute (SCHI)

SCHI is a collaborative partnership between the Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service, USC, TAFE Queensland and Griffith University. With the capacity to train the doctors, nurses and allied health professionals of the future, SCHI is a research and teaching institute that is embedded within the public tertiary hospital which provides translational research and offers students from diploma to postgraduate levels a direct pathway to employment.

Access pathways to higher education

USC and TAFE East Coast provide a range of programs to increase student numbers and improve access to people who are under-represented in higher education, or have suffered educational or socio-economic disadvantage.

  • Headstart is a transition program for senior school students in Year 11-12 to study USC courses while still completing high school.
  • Tertiary Preparation Pathway equips prospective students with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in undergraduate degree studies and provides a pathway to a degree program.
  • USC awards hundreds of scholarships and bursaries to assist students with the costs of university study. These are also awarded to students who need financial assistance or who demonstrate other achievements, such as sporting excellence or community activities (like volunteering or community leadership).
  • TAFE at school program gives students a head start on their career by completing a certificate while at school.
  • TAFE after school provides students with a qualification or a pathway to further study.
  • University pathways - students can complement their studies while considering university in the future.
  • TAFE Queensland Student Support teams provide individual support for under-represented students including migrant, access and inclusion students and mature age students.

Community education and employment services

There are also numerous employment services providers and community service organisations providing education and training support across our region:

The next five years: Investing in talent and skills action plan

Building on our successes since 2013, key activities outlined in the Regional Economic Development Strategy Implementation Plan 2019-2023 are:

  1. Work with state and federal government agencies and local industry to monitor skills and labour shortages, and ensure workforce skill gaps and early solutions are identified for high-value industries and connected to region shaping projects within the region and south east Queensland.
  2. Work with industry representatives and key growth sectors to identify the skilled work requirements to grow and expand the industry’s market footprint.
  3. Investigate partnership opportunities between the public and private sector to design and implement targeted workforce attraction and retention strategies.
  4. Develop local business support programs that support small and medium-sized enterprises to grow (capacity build) and connect (opportunities).
  5. Leverage opportunities in key markets to increase the intake of international students in tertiary, technical and secondary schools.
  6. Leverage the sport connection, talent and skills pathways on the Sunshine Coast to enable national and international connectivity.

More information

Read more about the region-wide programs and initiatives across the awards' Intelligent Community indicators:

  • Broadband: encouraging deployment and adoption, and deploying our own networks where necessary
  • Innovation: creating a culture that engages the entire community in positive change
  • Digital inclusion: providing access to digital technology and connectivity, and offering digital skills training
  • Engagement: building a common understanding of the challenges facing the community and a shared vision for overcoming them
  • Sustainability: improving the quality of life for our community.

The Sunshine Coast has again been named a global Top7 Intelligent Community for the second successive year. The annual awards program recognises the accomplishments of communities in developing inclusive prosperity on a foundation of information and communications technology, based on six key indicators: Broadband, knowledge workforce, innovation, digital inclusion, engagement and sustainability. The 2020 Top7 Intelligent Communities are now in the running for the prestigious Intelligent Community of the Year, to be announced in October.