The Construction Training Centre precinct at Salisbury has a long and distinguished past.
A search was conducted for a suitable location where the vision for a precinct that could deliver the founders’ mission could be realised.In the early 1990’s, the construction industry represented by employer and employee bodies recognised the need to establish a dedicated training centre that was responsive to industry’s needs and in so doing would raise the quality and outcomes of the publicly funded system.
The site chosen was previously occupied by Evans Deakin, a large engineering company now part of the Downer Group. For Queenslanders the Evans Deakin name is synonymous with the Story Bridge which spans the Brisbane River. On the very CTC precinct, the Story Bridge was built at a cost of £1.15 million, which took 5 years to complete and was officially opened in July 1940, watched by a crowd of 37,000.
The establishment of CTC
Purchased in 1994 for the sum of $4 million, the new purpose of the site would be to service the building and construction industry by providing the opportunity to deliver high quality training in a real work environment. Some $19 million was spent in the subsequent two years to bring the buildings up to a condition fit for their new purpose.
The centre would trade under the name “The Construction TrainingCentre” or “CTC” as it became widely known.
Since it’s conception, the centre has been through a number of periods of change, including the shift from Government funding to the introduction of the commercialisation of the business; the development of a new strategy to develop the corporate social responsibility of the centre; and re-focusing the business to lead the industry towards the innovative concept of “collaboration leasing”.
The following sections explain the rich history of the Construction Training Centre in more detail.
In 1991 a charitable trust, CISC Pty Ltd, was created with two founders – the Vocational Education, Training and Employment Corporation (the State Government) and the Queensland Construction Training Fund (QCTF) which represents industry, and is itself a Trust.
A Master Plan for the development of the site was drawn up and 1999 saw the realisation of Phase 1 of the plan with the completion of over $19m of capital works. This stage saw the demolition of several of the older buildings and a major refurbishment of others (Building 1 – 4) which provided over 9000 square metres of prime workshop space.
By the early 2000s, the centre had been significantly transformed. Visibly, the outward appearances were of an attractive and industrious site. A new office block was built and opened as the Ian Barclay Building in September 2000 – a fitting testament to a visionary man. The centre was by now being widely accepted as a ‘lead centre’ for construction.
Despite all of the activity, there was still no TAFE presence at the centre and revenue streams remained a challenge. A major area of concern was that the tenants that were at the centre, by now numbering fifteen, were paying rents at much less than the market rates.
In 2004, a rethink of the VET system presented an opportunity to review the government’s position in relation to CTC. If CTC was ever going to succeed, it needed to operate on a fully commercial basis. A proposal was drafted that would see CTC as self-sufficient and importantly generate a ‘training dividend’ that would enable the Centre to grow and expand. The solution was based around the concept that all tenants would pay a full commercial rental, not one simply based on cost recovery.
From 1 July 2006 it became clear that there would not be a significant TAFE presence at Salisbury or further Government capital investment. The period since 2006 has seen massive challenges. On the one hand, there was unprecedented industry growth at the start of the period and then on the other, the massive downturn caused by the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), and its effect on the economy was still quite devastating.
The financial year 2006/2007 saw the development of a new strategic plan for the skills centre which was underscored by a new Vision, new Mission and the articulation of a set of Values. One such value was “strengthen our community”. CTC needed to be seen as a ‘Good Corporate Citizen’ both within the local surrounding community and also to the industry at large. At a time when the environment and its protection have become bywords in the world, CTC had to play its part.
Training & Employment Programs for the unemployed and young people
CTC’s endeavours as a good corporate citizen are probably best demonstrated by the training and employment programs that we embarked upon in 2005 under the Queensland Government’s “Breaking the Unemployment Cycle” and “Skilling Queenslanders for Work” banners.
During the pre-GFC period when the labour market reflected full employment, the ability to attract workers to the building and construction industry was regarded as vitally necessary to deliver the ambitious infrastructure programs. Aside from this ‘dividend’ for industry, CTC’s employment programs focused on employment outcomes for long-term unemployed and other under-represented groups, including young people.
During the period January 2005 to June 2013, CTC conducted more than fifty 20-week programs which provided a total of 600 long-term unemployed people with paid employment and new work skills which allowed many of them to enter the building and construction workforce thus creating meaningful employment and stability for the new workers and their families.
While industry was the recipient of work ready employees, the community benefit was enormous, with improvements to infrastructure in schools, parks, sporting clubs, schools to name a few.
Under the Skilling Queenslanders for Work banner, CTC also delivered training and work readiness programs for more than 200 young people who had left school early and had little prospect of gaining employment.
Helping the community recover from disaster
It is no secret that Queensland had its fair share of disasters in recent years and CTC stepped up to the plate to assist in two of the most devastating events to affect the South East of Queensland.
In 2008 the equine industry came to a halt almost overnight as a result of the Equine Influenza outbreak. At the height of an economic boom there was considerable concern that workers would be displaced from the equine industries, never to return. CTC responded by auspicing two employment programs to spruce up and repair Brisbane racecourses and recreational equestrian facilities, enabling workers to continue to earn a wage and remain in situ allowing the industry to quickly get back on its feet when the crisis abated.
After the devastating floods of January 2011, CTC played a significant role in assisting the community to get back on its feet. Displaced workers and long-term unemployed people joined forces with construction tradespeople to refurbish sporting club-houses that had been completely inundated in the floods, quickly restoring their ability to earn income and therefore remain viable.
Flood recovery projects also restored creeks in the Brisbane Valley and repaired infrastructure damaged by the tonnes of debris washed down through the catchment area during the January floods. Landscaping work to beautify the new town of Grantham and road repair work in Ipswich were further projects delivered by CTC in response to the 2011 flood disaster.
The change in the State Government in 2011 resulted in the cessation of the Skilling Queenslanders for Work program, with the Federal Government taking responsibility for programs to assist the unemployed. This, together with the departure of a couple of key tenants, saw the opportunity for CTC to re-think its service offering and re-focus the business. With a fresh emphasis on engagement came a new model of leasing, moving from a traditional model to one that placed us at the very leading edge of innovation – “collaboration leasing”.
Central to the collaboration leasing model is the concept called “Hot Leasing”. This means that CTC absorbs the capital expenditure and idling risk, so RTO’s can deliver training in state of the art facilities on a pay as they use basis, offering them great value for money.