Keira ranks near top in educational job stakes

Illawarra workforce make-up continues to change

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When it comes to education the Keira electorate is almost at the top of the class.

According to a paper from the NSW Parliamentary Research Service, Keira is ranked second in the state for the proportion of people employed in the education and training sector - only beaten by the Blue Mountains.

The electorate has 4546 people - or 13.8 per cent - employed in that sector. This is greater than the more traditional areas of employment like mining and manufacturing, where Keira ranks eighth (3.1 per cent) and 42nd (8.5 per cent) respectively.

Peter Holmes is principal of Mt Ousley Public School, in the heart of the Keira electorate. A teacher for 30 years, he said the changing employment focus was a good thing.

"The Illawarra has long been seen as very much focused around manufacturing and mining - a blue-collar working class environment," Mr Holmes said.

"Moving forward in the education sector is a big thing and it can only be of benefit for the Illawarra.

"With manufacturing Australia-wide on the decline, we need an alternative and what better alternative than education?"

Mr Holmes credited his year 6 teacher with inspiring him to move into teaching but said there was no need for children today to sort out their career so early.

"One of the ways the world has changed is that it's okay for kids not to know what it is they want to do like I did," he said. "My choices were a whole lot more limited back then compared to what options exist for kids these days.

"We're constantly asking kids about what sort of journeys they're going to be taking on and the vast majority of them really have no idea," Mr Holmes said.

"But that's exciting - so many jobs that these kids in primary school will take on haven't actually yet been invented.

"Yes, we'll still need our butchers and our teachers and our policemen and all of those more traditional roles, but because we live in this global community we will be interacting with others right around the globe in ways that we haven't even considered."

A former teacher himself, Keira MP Ryan Park said he was proud of the high ranking in education.

"It is a strong indication of our economic growth in the region and how we have diversified our skills to be independent of the industrial sector," Mr Park said.

"This result is evident of the changing demographics in the Keira electorate and the important role TAFE Illawarra, together with the University of Wollongong, plays in our region."

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