An 18 month apprenticeship training program for 1,000 workers and $200 million to fund targeted training projects for skills in critical demand are among a range of initiatives to address skills shortages in Australia’s resources sector.
Releasing the Government’s response to the National Resources Sector Employment Taskforce report, Minister for Skills and Jobs, Senator Chris Evans said funding is being targeted at practical, industry-based solutions designed to deliver skilled workers.
The Government is accepting all of the 31 recommendations detailed in theResourcing the Futurereport which provides a comprehensive workforce plan for the resources sector. Implementing the recommendations is the first stage of a National Resource Sector Workforce Strategy.
“Implementing these recommendations will immediately assist the resources sector meet its increasing demand for skilled labour while maintaining the national momentum on addressing skills shortages,” Senator Evans said.
“Under the adult apprenticeship project, experienced workers will have their existing skills recognised and be given the opportunity to complete the competencies required to get a full trade qualification in just 18 months.
“Existing resource sector employees and workers from across Australia will be recruited and on and off-the-job training provided so companies will benefit immediately from a boost to their workforces.
“Workers with real skills will be able to gain trade qualifications in up to 18 months and secure highly paid jobs in the sector.
“This innovation follows the Government’s commitment to simplify and reform the Australian Apprenticeship system to ensure it is better targeted to meet the critical skills needs of the Australian economy.”
Industry and Government will each provide $2 million to co-fund the scheme which will be managed by East Coast Apprenticeships.
The Government has also opened the $200 million Critical Skills Investment Fund to partner with industry to provide training and employment opportunities.
Minister for Resources and Energy, Martin Ferguson AM MP said the release of the Government response was an important first step in addressing the skills and labour shortages in the resources sector and would also help alleviate the flow on pressures this created for other industries.
“Companies can now apply for funding to improve the skills of existing workers, train adult tradespeople as supervisors and recruit and train new workers and unemployed job seekers,” Minister Ferguson said.
“We estimate the Fund will help train 39,000 skilled workers over four years and target areas of critical need for the resources, construction, infrastructure and renewable energy sectors.”
“I am particularly keen to see projects that increase the number of women, Indigenous and young Australians working in the resources sector in regional Australia.”
Priorities for the first round of the Critical Skills Investment Fund will be rapid and innovative training responses that are tailored to meet employers’ immediate skills needs.
Senator Evans said innovative industry partnerships were the key to meeting the challenge of skills shortages in the resources sector.
“Partnerships at every level are needed to deliver highly skilled workers,” he said.
“We are already seeing the success of a national joint venture between several leading universities which produces about 85 per cent of the nation’s mining engineers.
“In 2007 there were just 113 mining engineers graduating from Australian universities. Last year under the industry endorsed Mining Education Australia joint venture, 192 job ready mining engineers graduated.
“These are the types of partnerships delivering skilled workers we want to encourage.”
In order to implement a key recommendation, Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations Secretary, Lisa Paul, will chair a steering committee to develop a national planning framework to identify the labour and skills needs of new resource projects.
The Australian and Queensland Governments are jointly funding a project to ensure locals are trained and employed in jobs associated with building the new coal seam gas trains in Gladstone.
Delivering the Government’s election commitment, a Cairns-based Fly-In Fly-Out Coordinator will be appointed to match jobseekers with mining, construction and infrastructure projects in remote areas across North Queensland. If successful, this pilot project may be rolled out to other regional centres.
A Memorandum of Understanding between the Australian Government and the MCA will underpin a new Indigenous employment strategy for the Pilbara. A regional coordinator and five local MoU coordinators will be appointed to increase employment and business opportunities for Indigenous people.
The Government will also fund a project to work with industry on strategies to attract and retain more women to the resources sector.
“The workforce strategy will require a strong commitment from all stakeholders, including industry bodies, small and large enterprises, employment service providers, education and training organisations, and state and territory governments,” Senator Evans said.
“The Australian Government will continue to invest in skills and training across Australia, to engage and encourage trainees, and properly prepare them to be the highly skilled workforce of tomorrow.”
The National Resources Sector Workforce Strategy, the Government response and details on the FIFO Coordinator role can be found at www.deewr.gov.au/resourcesworkforce. Applications close on Monday 11 April 2011.
Information on the Critical Skills Investment Fund and the submission of expressions of interest for industry training and workforce development projects are available from www.deewr.gov.au/criticalskillsinvestmentfund.Submissions close on Friday 8 April 2011.