Rio addresses Qld skills shortage

RIO Tinto’s Hail Creek mine is aiming to help alleviate the mining, agricultural and trades skill shortage in the Mackay region by contributing to the Sarina Rural Skills Centre.
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Clarius Skills Index indicates recent flooding in Australia will escalate the skills shortage.

Lou Caruana

Hail Creek mine’s general manager operations Andrew Woodley said the program would help strengthen and promote skills and cooperation in the region.

“We are pleased to support the evolution of the centre to provide opportunities for members of the wider community to develop their skills,” he said.

“It has the potential to be a significant multi-purpose training centre for a range of industries in the region, from sugar cane and farming through to engineering and mining.

“It may also become a potential meeting place, which will boost engagement and interaction among different people, vocations and industries in the area.

“At the end of the day, this will help ensure we continue working together for a sustainable future for Mackay and its surrounding regions.”

Hail Creek mine has contributed $11,000 through its community development fund to provide administrative support to the centre during the first year of the program, including a new part-time staff member.

Each Rio Tinto Coal Australia operation is aligned with a community development fund, which is designed to support projects that will deliver sustainability to its local communities in skills, education and training; employment; economic development; health and wellbeing; and the environment.

The Sarina centre’s new community outreach program will allow the general public to access the centre’s facilities after school and on weekends for personal and business training.

SRSC community board president Ron Gurnett said the program’s aim was to maximise the centre’s potential to develop a diverse range of skills within the region.

“The centre is a well-equipped engineering, rural skills and computer training facility owned by Sarina State High School,” he said.

“But this new program means that businesses and the general public can use the centre’s facilities to conduct training or complete personal projects like repairing property.

“We also aim to offer a range of training courses for people who want to update or learn new skills.

“For example, we’ll soon begin running two separate 12-week courses in gas welding and stick welding. We’re also looking into providing other courses down the track.”

Gurnett said the need for the program was first identified in the Queensland government’s Blueprint for the Bush.

“Blueprint for the Bush funded a feasibility study to investigate whether the community knew about the centre, would use it if they had the option, and to understand the ways they would like to use it,” he said.

“The sample was not huge, but the response was very positive.”