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News Media Releases Resource giants should be told to take on apprentices
Resource giants should be told to take on apprentices
Thursday, 06 October 2011 09:18

The only way to deal with the skilled labour shortage is for big resource projects to train their own workers, UnionsWA said today.

While WA is in the midst of a mining boom there are reports that the number of apprentices in WA is falling, with some having their apprenticeships cancelled due to a lack of work in the state.

“If more of the fabrication work was done in WA, then fewer apprentices would be put off half way through their training. Companies would be able to hire more apprentices if they knew the work was going to go their way,” UnionsWA Secretary Simone McGurk said.

Figures from the Department of Training and Workforce Development show that the number of apprentices in WA dropped from 21,819 in March 2009 to 20,111 in March 2010. In March this year the number of apprentices had fallen to 19,649.

“It’s totally absurd that resource companies are calling for relaxed immigration for skilled workers when there are plenty of young people who would jump at the chance to be properly trained while being paid,” Ms McGurk said.

“Training Minister Peter Collier should be talking to the likes of Chevron, demanding that they fill the perceived skilled workers gap with WA trained workers, rather than going overseas to recruit.”

A report by the National Council for Vocational and Educational Research showed that the resource sector would have to double its training to be on par with other industries.

“Resource companies need to take more responsibility and invest more in the future of West Australians. They are quite happy to reap the benefits of mining our resources. They are making huge profits, some of which must be ploughed into the future of the state,” Ms McGurk said.

“The people of WA need to know how many workers are being trained on the big resource projects. We know very little about the deals that the State Government makes with resource companies. It’s about time there was some transparency in this process. ”

The WA Government claims that young workers are being lured away from apprenticeships by highly-paid mining jobs.

“The low wages apprentices receive is only part of the problem. Small and medium-sized businesses are at the forefront of training.

“These businesses are being treated as a glorified training ground by the resource sector. They pilfer the skilled staff without putting any investment in their training,” she said.

UnionsWA is calling on the State Government to bring in a new system for training, which would not rely on private firms.

“In the past it was the big public sector workshops that trained apprentices. We had the Midland Workshops and the Electricity Commission among others. Now this work is done privatised companies which are no longer training apprentices in the same way.  We need a new system if we want to train large numbers of tradespeople needed for future skill demands,” Ms McGurk said.

Ms McGurk was critical of suggestions that apprentices dropped out of their courses because they had to undertake some class-room based learning.

“We have a quality vocational training system that combines structured, on the job training alongside classroom training. This produces high-quality tradespeople,” she said.

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