Upskilling indigenous workers for resources sector

An industry skills body has initiated targeted training programs for the indigenous community to work in the booming resources and energy sector.

Energy Skills Queensland is looking to turn the resources and energy boom into long term opportunities for indigenous workers aimed at addressing the indigenous jobs gap.

Workforce development manager Barry Crook said ESQ was focused on providing training and jobs to break the cycle for individuals disengaged from the workforce.

“People hear all the time about the resources boom, and the economic benefits it can bring to local communities,” he said.

“However that doesn’t happen just by itself. We are working closely with resources companies to help meet their skill needs, and also to ensure local indigenous people get a fair share of available jobs and can also join in the boom.

“It’s clear both government and industry are committed to providing employment for indigenous Australians but many employers often find it difficult to match people to jobs.”

Crook said there is a four step process in the training program.

The first step is to engage with the resources companies to identify what skills and job qualifications they require. He said some companies have specific targets and strategies around wanting to increase indigenous employment.

The second step is to work with the traditional owner communities to identify potential applicants suitable for employment. The next step would be to take these potential employees and train them with the skills required for the industry.

“And we do that through a number of ways. We are not a training organisation ourselves. We broker that out or facilitate training through registered training organisations,” Crook told Australian Mining.

“We’ve got a bunch of programs from working with one gas company to deliver driving licences right through to starting some guys this week on electrical apprenticeships for the energy industries. We work with RTOs and we also work with companies there.”

The final step is to follow through with mentoring and support after training is completed. ESQ will work with companies to provide support once the potential candidates are employed.

ESQ is working on 16 projects to help individuals from target groups identified as ‘at risk’ of not gaining meaningful employment. One project is electrical apprenticeships in the Surat Basin.

“We’re predicting a shortage of about 7,500 electricians in Queensland towards the end of this decade because of work in the resources area. So we’re working with a gas company to run a program on getting indigenous guys skilled up to be electricians,” Crook said.

ESQ collaborated with the Gidarjil Development Corporation in March for the Gidarjil Roadshow in Bundaberg to expose the indigenous community to employment opportunities in the state’s energy sector.

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