News Wrap

IN THIS morning’s wrap: tradies beat graduates in the pay stakes; generators’ coal supply a key concern; resources boom pushes wages up in regional Western Australia; and closer Asia research ties urged.
News Wrap News Wrap News Wrap News Wrap News Wrap


Lou Caruana

Tradies beat graduates in the pay stakes

Trades apprentices are earning more than university graduates in their first years out, in a sign the mining boom is increasing demand for higher technical skills, according to the Australian Financial Review.

The boost for trades comes even though university entries in non-vocational degrees are at record levels as the federal government removes the quota for enrolments.

Apprentices earn an average of $52,000 a year on completion of their training, a 2010 National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) shows.

Bachelor graduates, on the other hand, can expect to make $50,000 a year during their first 12 months, a survey by Graduate Careers Australia has found.

Industry groups hope rising wages in the trades will help persuade students and their families that apprenticeships are not a “second class” career option.

Generators’ coal supply a key concern

As the New South Wales government tries to find the best way to sell the state’s electricity generators, some questions are being raised about the generators’ coal supply, according to the Australian Financial Review.

The original plan was that the government-owned Cobbora coalmine would supply cheap coal to fire the power stations once the mine got up and running in the next few years.

But Cobbora is also up for sale, and some of the power stations’ supply contracts are due to expire in the short-to-medium term.

It appears the power plants will need to lock in new coal supply contracts ahead of any sale, to reduce the risk to buyers. Sources suggest that unless the power stations have these new coal contracts, there will be too much risk for any bidder to take them on.

But it is understood some of the contracts rolling off were struck at low prices. Locking in new ones on similar terms could be a challenge.

Resources boom pushes wages up in regional WA

The resources boom has pushed up salaries in regional Western Australia almost 17% above the market average, a Hay Group survey shows, reports The Australian.

Some premium jobs in mining, oil and gas in the state command salaries 35.5% above the market average – up from 26.6% last year.

Closer Asia research ties urged

Australian businesses will be encouraged to develop closer research ties with Asia as part of the government's push to strengthen commercial linkages in the region, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan today will provide a clear signal on some likely recommendations from the Asian white paper being prepared by former Treasury boss Ken Henry.

In a speech in Hong Kong, Swan will reveal that the white paper will include a focus on how to strengthen linkages between researchers here and in Asia.

“Stronger research links will be important in promoting a greater shared understanding of regional issues, and will help Australia and our neighbours plug into more regional opportunities,” Swan will say, according to speaking notes.