PERTH (miningweekly.com) − The Western Australian Chamber of Minerals and Energy (CME) and the Queensland Resources Council (QRC), along with the national industry skills council, SkillsDMC, have signed a three-year memorandum of understanding (MoU) to identify strategies to source skills.
In a joint statement, the three parties said on Tuesday that the projects under the MoU included defining and implementing a national skills policy for the resources sector, providing workforce planning data, brokering funds to support skills objectives, and establishing lead agencies for projects to maximse the strength and opportunities provided by the partners.
CME CEO Reg Howard-Smith said that the Western Australia and Queensland resource sectors were both facing a significant period of project development, where tens of thousands of additional workers would be required over the next few years.
The mining industry was planning to invest a record A$76-billion in 2011/12, and Howard-Smith noted that the Western Australia sector alone would require an extra 33 000 workers by the end of 2012.
“Our ability to source skilled labour will prove vital in the delivery of projects on time and on budget,” he added.
“Where there is mutual benefit, this new nonbinding collaboration allows the partners to work towards securing policy and initiatives that will underpin national prosperity for decades to come.”
QRC CEO Michael Roche added that the partnership would also result in unprecedented collaboration between the key mining states, and the training and education sectors to tackle a national issue.
“The MoU comes at a crucial moment in time to work towards ensuring the development and long-term sustainability of the resources sector in Queensland and Australia,” Roche said.
He noted that in the wake of a record A$31-billion of new investment in Queensland alone by liquefied natural gas developers, it was imperative that the industry band together in order to meet the sector’s increasing workforce needs to support this growth.
“No single state can resolve the skills issues we face on its own,” Roche added.
In its recently released budget, the Australian federal government acknowledged the skills shortages facing the industry, with treasurer Wayne Swan saying the commonwealth would invest some A$3-billion in new skills initiatives over the next six years.
Swan expected that around half-a-million jobs would be created over the next few years, fuelled by the massive resources investments.