Workers qualified, but Gladstone kids struggle

GLADSTONE may have a high population of qualified workers but the region is ranked one of the worst in Australia for developmentally vulnerable children.

The region has been ranked against other local government areas across the country in a new online research tool.

While figures show Gladstone is a strong region to invest in, data also shows it is one of the worst areas in the country for support in regional development.

Out of 563 areas, Gladstone ranked 539 for institutions, which determines administrative support for regional development.

Data also showed about 38.4% of Gladstone's children were developmentally vulnerable, ranking the region among the worst 10% of areas in the country.

In a survey of five-year-olds in their first year of school, it found 38.4% were showing signs of development problems.

Figures also showed the local government made $1718.71 in revenue per person - among the worst 20% in the country, although Gladstone council CEO Stuart Randle questioned how easy it was to compare rates and charges across councils.

Regional Australia Institute launched the new online research tool as a way for regions to look at how they ranked in areas of infrastructure and services, demography, business, labour force, natural resources and innovation.

It showed the Gladstone region was in the top third of the country for having 35.3% of the working age population with some form of qualification.

RAI deputy chief Jack Archer said the website was a way for regions to look at their booming areas and what areas needed work.

Despite some setbacks in the region, Mr Archer spoke highly of the Gladstone region, saying there was a mixture of foundations.

He said Gladstone was ranked well in infrastructure, demography and innovation.

"Economic fundamentals is 149 (out of 563), which is not surprising given the levels of investment going on," he said.

"What that says to me is there is actually a broader advantage in Gladstone that people can look for."

Mr Archer said the overall aim for the website was to educate regions on their strengths and weaknesses and use that knowledge to improve.

He said regions needed to focus on the "people" side of things to try to encourage job growth and more engagement in the workforce.

- APN NEWSDESK



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