This country's most precious resource is our children, and Australian Mining is helping to unearth their talent.
The man who's leading the charge is Roger Atkins.
Roger used to drive trucks for a living, but after receiving his Bachelor of Education in 1991, he worked his way to becoming a School Principal in Gladstone. He's now the director of the Queensland Minerals and Energy Academy (QMEA), making Roger the headmaster of Australia's biggest school.
Formed in 2005, the QMEA's focus is to help students develop successful careers in the mining industry.
The QMEA is a partnership between the Queensland Government and the Queensland Resources Council, working across 34 state, independent and catholic Queensland schools, encompassing over 20,000 high school students.
This partnership between school and industry is a world-first that offers Australian students a clear pathway from school to industry.
The QMEA operates as a 'virtual' academy whose teams work directly with students and teachers to provide direct access to employment in the resources sector through programs and a niche curriculum across four different pathways - operator, trade, technical and professional.
This provides not only the trades people and engineers of tomorrow, but also future HR professionals, environmental specialists, accountants, service staff and much more.
As Roger says, "Through the QMEA, local high school students will now have the information, incentive and encouragement they need to forge rewarding careers in a world class local industry".
This encouragement exists in the form of several innovative awards and scholarships Roger has introduced with the help of the mining industry. This year, six students were granted QMEA Awards, receiving $2000 scholarships to assist in future study and training in the resources industry.
In fact, Roger has forged many firsts, ensuring school kids experience hands-on training by actually getting onto mining sites. This practical experience prior to leaving school has resulted in an 86% retention rate for QMEA apprentices versus the industry standard of 60%.
Another great achievement of the QMEA is that it has helped revitalize regional areas by offering local kids long term career prospects in the area they grew up.
The QMEA's expansion into the Surat Basin is the perfect example. "We are as excited as the school communities are in recognising the opportunities on offer."
This includes various indigenous apprenticeships and traineeships.
The area's bright future would not be possible without support from Australian Mining. As Roger says, "We are indebted to our three coal seam gas company sponsors - Origin Energy, QGC and Santos - for their significant vote of confidence in the region".
The QMEA's success has continued with Xstrata Coal and Wandoan State School recently forming a partnership. The Wandoan Education Partnership is part of Xstrata Coal's commitment the region, providing $720,000 over three years to programs for students at the Wandoan and Taroom State Schools and Miles State High School. Three additional schools are set to come on board in the near future.
It's this kind of co-operation between the education department and industry that will help prevent a skills shortage in the mining sector, providing jobs for plenty of Australians. Roger says it best; "there is no better fit for the future than home-grown talent and expertise."
Twenty years ago, Roger Atkins drove trucks across the resource regions of Queensland. Now, with the help of Australian Mining, he's driving the future of Australia in the same area.