New pilot training increasing diversity in the Pilbara

South Metropolitan TAFE has partnered with Australian resources company BHP to design a unique pilot training program to increase diversity in its Pilbara workforce. This tailored work-ready program will help BHP meet its need for maintenance associate workers, who perform general maintenance duties alongside trade professionals and progress towards its goal of achieving gender balance in its workforce by 2025.

Aimed at boosting the number of Aboriginal people and the number of women in maintenance associate roles, the Maintenance Associate Diversity Pathway Program trains participants for a Certificate II in Construction Pathways – Building Maintenance and an additional skill set in electrical test and tag statutory compliance. Construction of a simulated transportable dwelling at the Rockingham TAFE campus and a visit to a BHP mining camp in the Pilbara will acquaint students with their potential working environment. Participants also receive support from SM TAFE’s Student Services and engagement officers from the Rockingham Jobs and Skills Centre, which managed applications and enquiries for the pilot program and is a one-stop-shop for careers, training and employment advice and assistance.

The first cohort of 15 students, funded by BHP, started training in July this year at the specialist construction facility at SMTAFE’s Rockingham campus.  Upon completion of the six-month pilot program; the students will take part in a recruitment process conducted by BHP, with successful applicants offered employment starting in 2022.

Kate and Tyler on a positive pathway

Kate Broadbent from Baldivis is a single parent with two young children, and she has long been interested in finding hands on work on the mines. A visit to the Rockingham Jobs and Skills Centre introduced her to the Maintenance Associate Diversity Pathway Program and after attending the information session, she applied. Kate says by introducing participants to a range of skills areas, the program is a great starting point for anyone wanting to get work in the resources sector. She intends to apply for a maintenance job with BHP after the program.

Tyler Bennell from Warnbro didn't know what career he wanted to pursue when he left high school six years ago, so he started a painting apprenticeship working for family. Now keen on working away from the city, Tyler is combining skills he enjoyed most from his apprenticeship, like plastering, with learning new skills including carpentry and tiling through the Maintenance Associate Diversity Pathway Program. Tyler is hoping to secure a job on the mines and would eventually like to transition into a welding or engineering role building or fixing mine site equipment.

On completion of the pilot program, BHP will consider an annual intake of students and the development of similar programs for other areas of its operations. To find out more about the program, contact the Rockingham Jobs and Skills Centre on 9599 8655 or email the Rockingham Jobs and Skills Centre.

Kate and Tyler, participants in the new Maintenance Associate Diversity Pathway Program.

Education and Training Minister Sue Ellery: “The pilot Maintenance Associate Diversity Pathway Program is a wonderful example of TAFE and industry working together to trial an innovative training solution to meet skills needs in today’s workforce environment. “ said Education and Training Minister Sue Ellery. "This is a great program, supporting Western Australians to fill roles required in WA's resources sector. By encouraging more Aboriginal people and women into its workforce, BHP is making a positive investment in its future workforce. “

Read the Minister's full media statement here

Main picture: Kate and Tyler, participants in the Maintenance Associate Diversity Pathway Program.