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Development of technical education 1902-1964

In 1902 a Board of Technical Education was created to advise the Minister.

In 1905, as a result of disagreements between the Council of the Brisbane Technical Education and the Department, the Board was abolished and a separate branch of the Department of Public Instruction was created to exercise greater control over technical education.

R.M. Riddell, as Inspector of Technical Colleges, was placed in charge of this branch. The Inspector's duties were to foster and develop the system of technical education, to inspect the technical colleges, and to supervise the grants. After 1905 the various colleges were placed on a more uniform footing with regard to the syllabus, examinations and endowments. As the reports of the Inspector drew attention the wastefulness and overlapping of the three Brisbane technical colleges (North Brisbane, South Brisbane and West End), the Technical Instruction Act of 1908 was passed, amalgamating them into the Central Technical College and providing for direct State control. After the passing of the Technical Instruction Amendment Act of 1918, the control of the country colleges was gradually transferred to the Department of Public Instruction.

In 1914 the Brisbane Central Technical College occupied new buildings adjacent to the University of Queensland. The Diploma of Engineering work of the College was then co-ordinated with that of the Faculty of Engineering of the University.

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A few years later, at the conclusion of World War 1, technical colleges provided rehabilitation trade courses for ex-servicemen. Shortly after this, in 1924, a major step in the public recognition of technical college qualifications was made when the holders of prescribed diplomas were given the right to 'letters' after their names.

When the Depression of the 1930s came, it was hoped that unemployment would be alleviated if the jobless were taught trade skills, the unskilled workers being the first to be affected by the Depression. Furthermore, the Government saw a political danger in having so many young men idle. Unemployed youth were consequently encouraged to attend free training in various technical skills at the technical colleges.

After the outbreak of war in 1939, the Technical Education Branch trained thousands of skilled workers for munitions works, the aircraft factories and the technical branches of the services. At the end of the war, Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Courses were provided for ex-servicemen in the technical colleges. The post-war period was a difficult one for the Technical Education Branch. Although the equipment and machines of the colleges had been in use for long periods during the war, it had not been possible to replace them as they depreciated. As a consequence, the branch was faced with the task of replacing heavy equipment in the post-war period when salaries and other running costs were rising.

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Last reviewed
10 January 2013
Last updated
10 January 2013