The WA State Government is meeting with the Pilbara’s key business leaders to discuss opportunities to grow the local skilled workforce, in back-to-back Regional Skills Summits being held in Karratha and Port Hedland this week.
In Karratha today and Port Hedland tomorrow, the Regional Skills Summits will generate 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. More than 60 government and regional business leaders from a range of sectors are attending the Pilbara skills summits, including the region’s biggest employing industries of mining; construction; transport, postal and warehousing; accommodation and food services; professional, scientific and technical services; and administrative and support services.
Recognising the importance of training to build a skilled workforce and retain people in regional areas, the McGowan Government has been working to ensure its investment in training initiatives reaches all corners of the State. Pilbara locals are snapping up affordable training opportunities offered through the State Government’s Lower fees, local skills (LFLS) initiative, with a 31 per cent increase in LFLS enrolments in the region this year. Employers have responded by taking on more apprentices and trainees in the Pilbara region in 2021, with commencements up by more than 79 per cent in the 12 months to 31 August 2021.
The State Government recently expanded the LFLS program by a further 30 courses, to now include a total of 210 courses with heavily reduced course fees in priority industry areas including train driving, veterinary nursing, crane operations, surveying, laboratory technology, wool classing, hospitality management and others. Additionally, workers in industries which have a critical need to upskill workers – including childcare, aged and disability care, and civil construction – will be able to access low-fee existing worker traineeship places to help meet the skills needs of these sectors.
The new initiatives respond to workforce issues raised by industry leaders at the Perth and regional skills summits held to date, and are jointly funded through a $103.5 million agreement between the State and Commonwealth governments under the expanded JobTrainer Fund agreement. Other initiatives progressing from the Perth Skills Summit 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; and
- boosting Aboriginal youth employment opportunities.
The State Government is also providing support for jobseekers experiencing disadvantage to obtain a driver’s licence; progressing targeted advertising campaigns to attract interstate workers and increase participation of under-represented groups in WA; has smoothed the pipeline of construction work; and is running a series of 10 Regional Skills Summits, including the two being held in the Pilbara.
Fostering strong links between regional TAFE colleges and government, industry and the education sector, the VET Regional Partnerships Program also continues to grow. With a focus on creating more apprenticeships and traineeships in regional WA, the Program supports the Government’s plan to increase the number of jobs in regional WA by 30,000.
“As the engine room of the Australian economy, maintaining a strong and sustainable workforce in the Pilbara is pivotal to our State’s continuing recovery and success. “ said Education and Training Minister Sue Ellery today. "The Pilbara Regional Skills Summits are an opportunity for regional business leaders to work in partnership with government to progress innovative ideas to meet the region's unique skills needs. Insights will inform a local action plan to address changing workforce needs in the Pilbara with a focus on local solutions for local issues. “.