The Sunshine Coast has earned a reputation for being the entrepreneurial capital of Australia based on the large proportion of the population owning their own businesses, and with so many key developments coming in the next five years, local industry is only going to grow further. But as TAFE Queensland’s Dean Sherwell explains, mutually beneficial partnerships and quality training are giving local enterprises an edge over their competitors.
“When you invest time in your staff and train them in the right way, you can have a big impact on the performance of your business, regardless of the size of your organisation,” Dean said.
“People often say, ‘what if I invest my time and money into my staff and they leave’, but what they should really be thinking is, ‘what if I don’t and they stay?’.
“Quality, industry-standard training has the power to boost productivity and skills – which in turn can save a business plenty of time, effort and money in the long run.”
In his role managing one of TAFE Queensland’s Business Development teams, Dean connects with the Sunshine Coast Council, Chambers of Commerce and local businesses to ensure that TAFE Queensland is responsive to the training needs of this growing community. It’s a vital role that he says allows TAFE Queensland to keep its finger on the pulse of the region’s demands while it works to fill the skills gaps.
“TAFE Queensland has strong connections to industry, enhancing outcomes for our students, as well as local businesses and the region as a whole,” Dean said.
“While we remain dedicated to providing students with hands-on experience and organisations with training for their employees, the focus is also about what training needs to look like in the future,” he said.
“By being so heavily involved in the community and connecting with industry, we are not only ensuring the quality training of future and current employees, but are ensuring that we are across new developments so we can address the region’s training needs as they arise.”
Having worked in business development and recruitment for most of his life, Dean says he has always been interested in the performance of businesses and the influence the people within them have on their success. It’s a passion he brought with him to TAFE Queensland when he started in 2015, and a belief that extends to the training sector.
Dean has lived on the Sunshine Coast since 2011 and says although the region has grown and changed over the years, one thing he believes has remained consistent is the collaborative nature of local businesses, and how supportive the community are of local enterprises.
“I don’t think the Sunshine Coast will ever lose that quality; it may be growing, but we are still very much a tight-knit community that care more about supporting people they like and believe in,” he said.
“The relationship TAFE Queensland has with people in our business community is one of genuineness and integrity. TAFE Queensland has been around for over 135 years and is the largest training organisation in Queensland, so we clearly know what we’re doing. But it’s our authenticity, and our genuine desire to help local businesses be the best they can be, that draws industry to partner with us.”