Regional performance mapped out
As seen in the Bendigo Advertiser, March 29, 2017
The differences between regional and metropolitan communities have been mapped, highlighting gaps in areas such as education.
[In]Sight: Australia’s Regional Competitiveness Index measures themes such as human capital, which describes the education and skills of a region’s workforce.
Loddon Mallee ranks 29th out of 60 regions nationwide in the category, while areas in Melbourne place within the top 10.
Innovation was one theme in which there was disparity between regional and metropolitan communities.
Though Loddon Mallee ranked 36th in the subcategory of ‘business dynamo’, it placed 47th in scientific research and development, and 46th out of 60 for the category overall.
On a national scale, the [IN]Sight – Human Capital Index showed regional students were performing significantly lower in numeracy and literacy than those in metropolitan areas.
The proportion of regional Australians aged 15 – 24 years who were not engaged in education or employment was 44 per cent higher than in metropolitan areas, and 9 per cent fewer regional Australians were university qualified.
“We need to act to improve outcomes for young people in rural communities,” Bendigo and Adelaide Bank chairman Robert Johanson said.
“If left unaddressed, an already glaring disparity is likely to grow from a gap to a chasm.”
The bank will this year invest more than $1 million in scholarships to help more than 90 university students.
“Young regional people tell us they face many barriers which go beyond reduced access to formal education services, to include a lack of access to non-traditional forms of training including job-readiness and upskilling programs,” Mr Johanson said.
But it’s not just young people Regional Australia Institute chief executive officer Jack Archer said needed to be engaging in education. Less than 10 per cent of regional residents over the age of 30 are studying.
“Whether you’re eight or 88, if you’re in a regional area we want you to be engaged in learning,” Mr Archer said.
La Trobe University Bendigo head of campus Rob Stephenson said it had been his experience that principals of schools outside the Bendigo commuter belt were those most concerned by disadvantage.
“The proximity of educational opportunities is really important for a lot of young people,” he said.
He said the provision of rail services had increased opportunities for students in Echuca.
The cost and impost of either having to have their own means of transport or to relocate to study could mean the difference between whether or not a young person decided to continue their education, Mr Stephenson said.
[IN]Sight: Australia’s Regional Competitiveness Index was developed by the Regional Australia Institute.
Bendigo and Adelaide Bank partnered with the institute to release the new research.
The map is available at http://insight.regionalaustralia.org.au/
Read the original article at www.bendigoadvertiser.com.au/story/4563417/regional-performance-mapped-out/