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Thumbs-up for Govt Response to Employment Taskforce Report

Both the Australian Constructors Association (ACA) and the Australian Industry Group (AIG) have welcomed the Government?s decision to accept all 31 recommendations made by the Taskforce, aimed at addressing the skills shortage in Australia?s resources sector.

The report, released in July 2010, outlined a comprehensive plan that is to be the first stage of a National Resource Sector Workforce Strategy.

Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Jobs and Workplace Relations Senator Chris Evans, said, ?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.?

?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,? Evans added.

?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.?

Peter Brecht, President of the ACA, offered his congratulations to the Government for its response, while Heather Ridout, AIG Chief Executive described the Government?s response as ?a serious one which will be welcomed by industry.?

Both Brecht and Ridout took the opportunity to restate the severity of skills shortages in the resources industry, and encouraged the Government to look at a double-pronged approach that would improve training and boost and increase workforce participation in under-utilised groups, but also make use of overseas skilled workers where necessary.

“The report acknowledges the impact the resources sector is having on intensifying capacity constraints and accepts that while we need to improve training and boost apprenticeships, that alone won’t be enough,? said Ridout. ?Immigration programs are essential to delivering skilled workers when and where we need them.

“In this regard, the Federal Government’s in-principle introduction of Enterprise Migration Agreements for mega resource projects should contribute towards helping companies’ access overseas skilled workers to meet their workforce needs on what are nationally significant projects.?

Brecht added, “The construction industry is conscious that the use of temporary migration programs is a politically tough issue but I am sure that we can get the balance right. The reality is that given ongoing and projected skill shortages, overseas skilled workers will be needed for a considerable time and we need efficient arrangements in place to manage their participation in the Australian workforce. “

Both Brecht and Ridout also welcomed the Governemnt?s support of the NRSET recommendation for the commencement of a Critical Skills Investment Fund of $200 million, 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.

?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.?

Brecht claimed that the CSIF initiative ?represents a real opportunity to test innovative training and employment programs,” while Ridout described the move as ?an important step in expanding the funding of skill-based training, on a co-funded basis, according to the needs of the economy.?

Information on the Critical Skills Investment Fund and the submission of expressions of interest for industry training and workforce development projects are available from

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