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Skilling up – The future of training in resources

01-train of thought qmeb summer 2015

[hr]New skills challenges are emerging across the resource industry as new mega projects make the transition from construction to production in increasing numbers. Janine Temple from national resource employer group, the Australian Mines and Metals Association (AMMA), says skills development is gaining momentum.[hr]

AMMA’s training director, Janine Temple, says up-skilling is taking a leading role in meeting emerging skills shortages.

“Resource employers remain committed to recruiting new highly-skilled talent into Australia’s mining, oil and gas sectors, but the existing resource workforce is also gaining recognition as a valuable and prolific source of skills,” Ms Temple says.

“In growing numbers, resource employers are embracing up-skilling as a strategic approach to workforce planning that builds on employee commitment and experience to meet skills gaps as they emerge.”

The data backs Ms Temple’s assertions. According to the AWPA, resource employers spend upwards of $1.1 billion annually on training, just 2% of which is funded by government.

Outsourcing training partnerships to deliver such training is also a popular trend among employers, recognised as a cost-effective initiative that allows an on-demand approach to filling skills needs.

AMMA training consultant Craig Gilvarry says ‘training the trainer’ is no longer a rare experience, with employers continuing to invest in their own training teams to up-skill and empower their workers.

“Qualifying employees in a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment reflects a growing trend among employers committed to the dispersion of knowledge and skills across their workforces,” Mr Gilvarry says.

“Experienced, dedicated staff are an organisation’s greatest asset and are inevitably relied upon to act as leaders in the workforce, so it makes sense to get them qualified to train and assess.

“Needless to say, once employees are qualified, their value to the organisation increases dramatically.”

Looking back to the national spectrum, Ms Temple says growth is a constant among those who choose to invest in workforce training and development, as well as higher employee retention rates, stronger workforce cultures and greater workplace productivity.

However, she also notes that training the resource workforce isn’t without its challenges.

“Organisations have so much to gain from workforce training and development, but a key component of those gains is the relevance of the courses on offer,” she says.

“More than 95 years’ experience with resource employers has taught us that every workplace across the mining, oil and gas sectors is unique, underpinning our philosophy that every course delivered must reflect that uniqueness.

“Whether delivered as nationally-accredited training or as a crafted operational certification, courses must be customised to reflect an organisation’s core objectives, positioning pupils to contribute their skill sets to the specific needs of their employer.”

Up-skilling the resource workforce also presents logistical challenges for trainers – challenges that require innovation to overcome.

[hr]“Needless to say, once employees are qualified, their value to the organisation increases dramatically.”[hr]

According to BREE, the transition of $56 billion worth of major projects from construction into production over the past 12 months is a telling sign of a new and challenging resource industry environment, and emerging skills shortages are predicted in the near future.

As the labour market evolves, however, resource employers are committing to creative strategies that tackle skills challenges head on, making workforce training and development a top priority across the industry.

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