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VTEC marks 15 years of Aboriginal engagement

Fortescue’s highly successful Vocational Training and Employment Centre (VTEC) program has marked 15 years of operations, training and recruiting more than 1000 Aboriginal people for full time jobs with the company.

Fortescue is one of Australia’s largest employers of Aboriginal people, representing 10 per cent of its total Australian workforce.

Established by Fortescue founder and executive chairman Andrew Forrest in 2006, VTEC provides Aboriginal people with a guaranteed job at Fortescue as a result of their training provided by the company. The first cohort of 20 participants graduated in 2007.

In 2014, the Commonwealth Government committed to building a national VTEC network, based on Fortescue’s model. Two years later, the national initiative reached its Aboriginal employment target of 5000 jobs.

Bunjima woman Kirrilee Lockyer successfully completed the VTEC program, before commencing as a Mining Operator Trainee. She credits VTEC with changing her life and helping to build her confidence and team building skills.

“I was inspired to apply for VTEC by my brother who has also completed the program. Watching him grow from a shy person who wasn’t sure of himself into the proud, confident man he is today, really showed me that this as something I could have too,” she said.

VTEC is supported by a range of other professional development opportunities for Aboriginal employees, including Fortescue’s Trade Up which provides an accredited pathway to an apprenticeship and the Company’s Leadership and Excellence in Aboriginal People (LEAP) program which further supports Aboriginal employees develop their leadership skills.

“When I started Fortescue, I envisioned a business that would employ as many First Nations people as we possibly could,” Forrest said.

“We wanted to end the cycle of jobless training once and for all. VTEC has proven to be ground-breaking in that respect, helping so many Indigenous Australians gain employment, helping to set them up with lifelong skills to support a sustainable career in the resources sector and beyond.

“The power of VTEC has touched the lives of so many, and I am so proud of our alumni of VTEC graduates at Fortescue and across Australia who are helping to lead change in their families and communities.

“With our eye now firmly focused on a clean energy future, we are building a world leading workforce capable of supporting Fortescue’s vision to eliminate fossil fuels from our operations. I am pleased to be able to bring the next generation of VTEC graduates with us on this exciting journey.

Editor of industrial titles and mastheads with Prime Creative Media. Publications include Rail Express and Australian Mining (web content).
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