Transforming Queensland’s industrial heartland into a green technology capital could be the key to tackling regional brain drain and inspire younger generations to chase their career dreams on home soil, a central Queensland mayor says.

Gladstone mayor Matt Burnett said like a lot of regional centres, Gladstone suffered from an exodus of teenagers when it came time to pursue higher education, and many did not return home from bigger cities.

But Mr Burnett and local school leaders are on a mission to stop their regional brain drain in its tracks and lure young people back to the fold.

For local mother Emma Smith, the industrial transition Gladstone is going through gives her hope for her family’s future.

“It gives me a lot of joy to think that kids who are finishing school have got the potential to go into industries that even 10 years ago we didn’t even think would be a thing,” she said.

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