$2 billion to help one million Australians get work

A previously unimagineable amount of $2 billion has been pledged by the federal government for the now one million Australian unemployed and school-leavers to learn new skills.

$500 million will go to a ‘JobTrainer’ scheme to run new courses for hundreds of thousands of workers so they have the skills that will be in demand when a recovery comes.

The remaining $1.5 billion will go to further wage subsidies for apprentices including this year’s school-leavers. The $500 million component will go towards courses that meet the needs identified by the National Skills Commission, in consultation with the states and territories and in the hope they will match the funding.

The courses are expected to be in fields such as health, retail, social assistance, transport, manufacturing and warehousing.

The National Waste and Recycling Industry Council (NWRIC) CEO Rose Read, told Inside Waste that there were always available jobs for women and men as forklift drivers.

“Our members find those roles challenging to fill and now as the industry is growing there are also roles at local processing facilities,” she said.

Read added that auditing jobs in environmental health and safety and customer service were other areas were school and university leavers could up-skill and apply.

Funding will assist long-term

Australian Resources and Energy Group AMMA director operations, Tara Diamond said the government investment in 100,000 extra apprentices would assist in arresting the sliding number of apprentices and trainees, but longer-term will help more Australians access diverse, highly-paid and rewarding careers within the resources and energy industry.

However, she cautioned that for the funding to deliver long-term positive outcomes for both employees and employers, it must be targeted to address key areas of skills demand and shortages.

“Understanding and pinpointing the areas of current and future workforce demand must be a priority for the government’s new skills package. Employers want to know specifically how the type of training is determined and what modelling will be used to identify the skills most in demand.”

An AMMA Workforce Modelling report, released a few months prior to COVID-19, estimated that new resources and energy projects would create around 21,000 new long-term jobs in the resources and energy industry by 2024. While the economic environment has changed markedly, Ms Diamond said this modelling provides strong insight into what occupations in the resources and energy sector will become in demand.

“The pre-COVID workforce modelling showed likely demand for 8,660 mining equipment operators, 2,847 heavy diesel fitters and 970 other tradespeople across electrical, mechanical and maintenance trades,” she said.

“This is just operating roles in the mining industry over the next four years. Factoring in construction trades required to build new resources and major public infrastructure projects, and the demands will be far greater.

“More trainees and apprentices with the right skills in the right areas, will be critical for our nation’s economic recovery.

“Additionally, this focus on apprenticeships cannot afford to leave females behind. As we know the majority of trade apprenticeships are males – we must equally encourage both males and females to be skilled and up-skilled in trades.”