The State Government hosted a Regional Skills Summit in Northam yesterday to discuss opportunities to grow and sustain a skilled workforce in Western Australia’s Wheatbelt, with more than 30 regional business leaders from a range of sectors including the agriculture, construction, education, hospitality and healthcare industries along with peak bodies, unions, government agencies and training representatives attending.
Recognising the importance of access to training for building a skilled workforce and retaining people in regional areas, the WA Government has been working to ensure its investment in training initiatives reaches all corners of the State. In the past year, student course enrolments in the Wheatbelt have increased by 18 per cent — driven by affordable training opportunities through the Lower fees, local skills program and strong growth in employment-based training. Employers have responded by taking on more apprentices and trainees in the Wheatbelt in 2021, with more than 650 commencements in the year to 30 June 2021.
Following the successful Skills Summits held recently in Perth and Bunbury, the Northam Regional Skills Summit will generate further practical actions and new and innovative ideas that will form the basis of a local action plan to meet the region’s unique workforce needs.
A range of initiatives are already progressing from the Perth Skills Summit, to attract and retain skilled workers and continue our State’s strong economic growth. These initiatives include:
- attracting onshore skilled migrants to fill jobs in demand in WA;
- supporting mature age apprentices;
- promoting the tourism and hospitality industry to school students to grow the workforce;
- extending the Apprenticeship and Traineeship Reengagement Incentive;
- freezing regional Government rental accommodation to attract public sector workers to the regions;
- boosting Aboriginal youth employment opportunities; and
- providing support for jobseekers experiencing disadvantage to obtain a driver’s licence.
The State Government is also progressing targeted advertising campaigns to attract interstate workers and increase participation of underrepresented groups in WA; smoothing the pipeline of construction work; and a series of 10 Regional Skills Summits, including the one being held today.
“As a primary Western Australian agricultural region, maintaining a strong and sustainable Wheatbelt workforce is pivotal to the continuing success of our State’s economy. “ said Education and Training Minister Sue Ellery. "Today’s Regional Skills Summit will address the demand for workers and changing skills needs in the region, with a focus on finding immediate and medium term solutions to local issues. Making local training available is an important part of retaining workers and building a skilled workforce in Western Australia’s regional communities. Insights gathered today will be considered by the State Government to inform a local action plan to address the Wheatbelt region’s skills needs.”