Load & Haul

Council works with industry to refine training package

When SkillsDMC, the Industry Skills Council for the resources and infrastructure industry, launched the Resources and Infrastructure Industry Training Package (RII09) in August 2009, industry expectations for streamlined, cost-effective workforce training were high.

RII09 was developed in consensus with industry stakeholders to combine skills and qualifications across the drilling, mining, quarrying and infrastructure sectors into a nationally recognised training package and competency system.

Eighteen months on, Dorothy Rao, deputy CEO of SkillsDMC and a key driver behind the training package, believes it has made a significant difference in freeing up the available skills pool in Australia. She says the RII09 package impacts over half a million employees and thousands of companies and has made it easier for employers to identify and recruit candidates with skills and qualifications relevant to their operations, across both sector and State lines.

?Feedback on the training package has been positive,? says Dorothy Rao. ?The increased portability of skills via the training package has reduced the need to retrain talent moving across sectors or around the country from project to project.

?With enterprises all drawing from the same, portable, skills pool, it is easier for employers to maintain the skills level for a specific role. When a skilled employee leaves an operation, there is now more opportunity to fill the role.

?This is particularly evident in the quarry sector. When a supervisor role opens up in an Adelaide quarry, for instance, employers can attract talent from an equivalent role within the resources and infrastructure industry from anywhere in Australia,? says Dorothy.

Leanne Parker, who is the chairman of the working party for RII09 V2 (representing the quarrying sector) and an IQA Councillor, says that although the uptake has been gradual for quarrying, those introduced to the new RII09 units of competency are happy.

?From an industry training perspective, management roles in quarrying have benefitted most from the training package, with an accelerated road to qualification. Under the consolidated training package employees can study a Diploma without doing a Certificate IV. Previously the Certificate IV had to be completed before the Diploma could be started,? Leanne explains.

Dorothy Rao says this is an important benefit for the quarry sector as its skills forecast indicates a need to replace and grow the workforce over the next three years.

The quarry sector has a national workforce of between 30,000 and 35,000 people and an age skew above the national average. However, the sector is at risk of losing 43 per cent of its existing workforce over the next three years due to other sectors ?poaching? workers with similar skills sets.

The nature of quarrying operations and workforce size requires employees to be multi-skilled across roles and job functions. The quarry sector is largely dominated by operational roles such as plant or equipment operators and assistants (65 per cent) and on the job training is necessary for site-specific operational competency of plant and equipment.

During the recent revision of RII09, SkillsDMC consulted stakeholders in all sectors to ensure full engagement and agreement on the proposed updates. Dorothy Rao adds the quarry sector recognised the value of a more streamlined and portable training structure.

RII09 V2 will consolidate competencies and qualifications. For example, it has been recommended that nine types of Certificate II for environmental, geotechnical, seismic and other types of drilling be merged into a single Certificate II in Drilling Operations.

It is also proposed that multiple competencies in above ground blasting are amalgamated into the one Conduct Surface Shotfiring Operations competency.

RII09 V2 also addresses omissions as well as the development and amendment of units of competency and qualifications to reflect current industry requirements.

Leanne Parker says a goal of RII09 V2 for the quarry sector will be further progress in skills recognition across the industry.

?Quarry workers have a range of skills that are easily transferable across the sectors, particularly to and from the civil sector. This makes the portability of competencies and qualifications very important for the future of the quarry sector,? Leanne says.

She adds that RII09 V2 will have more consistent wording and more resource information. In 2009, over 1200 competencies and 106 qualifications were reviewed to identify skills common to all five sectors and those specific to a particular sector. As a result, the number of competencies was reduced by 25 per cent and qualifications by 43 per cent.

The RII09 V2 training package will be launched later in 2011 and will further consolidate the training system, as well as ironing out implementation issues that have arisen over the past 18 months for employers, RTOs and employees.

Source: SkillsDMC/Impact Communications Australia

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