New plan of attack on skills shortage

THE Victorian division of the Minerals Council of Australia is calling for a review of Australia's vocational education and training system to help relieve the chronic shortage of trained workers in the minerals industry.
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Staff Reporter

Speaking at the Australian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy's Sir Willis Connelly oration in Melbourne last week, MCA Victorian division executive director Chris Fraser revealed a four-step strategy to overcoming the shortages.

Fraser said firstly the Federal Government and state governments need to take steps to improve the literacy and numeracy of school leavers.

This should be followed by the governments continuing the VET sector reform agenda at an accelerated pace to ensure it delivers competency based, market responsive, flexible quality training.

The third part of his plan involved encouraging companies to find innovative ways of fast-tracking apprenticeship training.

Fraser concluded his plan with a federal and state government review of the possibility of establishing a network of VET level mining education and training centres in the principal mining regions across Australia.

He welcomed the Labor Government's commitment to making the VET system a centrepiece of its education agenda but said there would be no relief in the near future to the labour shortage.

"While the industry has experienced an overall 66 percent increase in employment over the five years to June 2007, the minerals industry will require an additional 70,000 workers by 2015 - 27,000 of these will need to be tradespeople and 22,000 skilled operators with VET qualifications and skill sets," Fraser said.