UP­SKILL FOR JOBS BOOM

ST MARYS TRAIN­ING PRO­GRAM AD­DRESSES ‘CRY­ING DE­MAND’ FOR WORK­ERS

Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - FRONT PAGE - Jenny Gal­braith

MORE work­ers are des­per­ately needed at con­struc­tion sites across western Syd­ney as the Mt Druitt area faces the high­est un­em­ploy­ment in the state.

A boom in projects in the area has caused pri­vate busi­nesses to part­ner with govern­ment to ad­dress a short­age of plant oper­a­tors and other skilled work­ers in the civil con­struc­tion sec­tor.

“There’s a cry­ing de­mand in the in­dus­try at the mo­ment for oper­a­tors,” said Mur­ray Ste­wart, who has set up a new St Marys job train­ing pro­gram to get more un­em­ployed into the work­force.

BUSI­NESSES in western Syd­ney are cry­ing out for work­ers while un­em­ploy­ment in ar­eas like Mt Druitt con­tin­ues to climb.

A short­age of plant oper­a­tors and other skilled work­ers in the civil con­struc­tion sec­tor is al­ready emerg­ing with a boom in con­struc­tion projects across the re­gion.

“There’s that much in­fra­struc­ture projects on they can’t get enough peo­ple,” said Richard Stan­ton, an in­struc­tor at a new St Marys job train­ing pro­gram who has 20 years ex­pe­ri­ence in the in­dus­try.

A labourer hirer he knew was con­sid­er­ing get­ting work­ers from Queens­land and hous­ing them down here be­cause of the short­ages, he said.

All Plant Train­ing, run out of the grounds of Mamre House, of­fers a 12-week pro­gram to give par­tic­i­pants the skills and qual­i­fi­ca­tions to gain im­me­di­ate em­ploy­ment as plant oper­a­tors af­ter fin­ish­ing.

One of the peo­ple be­hind the pro­gram is Mur­ray Ste­wart, who said new projects like the con­struc­tion of Badgerys Creek air­port was only go­ing to make the skills gap more acute.

Chang­ing peo­ple’s at­ti­tude to work and con­nect­ing up the un­em­ployed with the right train­ing were bar­ri­ers that needed to be over­come to make a dent in the un­em­ploy­ment prob­lem, he said.

“You’ve got to be ready to get out of bed and get out there, be­cause there’s so much work for con­struc­tion, and all they’re ask­ing for is you have at least some ba­sic skills and knowl­edge,” Mr Ste­wart said.

Un­em­ploy­ment around the Mt Druitt area is about 16 per cent, and as high as 21 per cent in places like Bid­will.

Pro­grams like All Plant Train­ing and oth­ers in the area that of­fer cour­ses in skills such as ware­hous­ing are given Fed­eral Govern­ment fund­ing, which cov­ers some or all of the fees de­pend­ing on a per­son’s cir­cum­stance.

“It’s the first time in my life I can make money and ac­tu­ally see a so­cial out­come here that I’m proud of,” Mr Ste­wart said.

“From a busi­ness point of view I prob­a­bly shouldn’t be do­ing it, but I’m pre­pared to pour in the dol­lars. I’m back­ing what I be­lieve in.”

Both men and women of all ages, the un­em­ployed and those who wanted a change of ca­reer have signed up to the course since it be­gan last Septem­ber.

Shane Booth, 27, has al­most fin­ished the course and al­ready has four in­ter­views lined up.

“In the last six weeks I’ve just had a mas­sive con­fi­dence boost. I recog­nise too I can change my life with this course by get­ting a job I’m re­ally go­ing to suc­ceed at,” he said.

“I grew up in western Syd­ney I love it and I al­ways will, but there’s also some strug­gles in the area. To be able to lead by ex­am­ple and fin­ish my Cert 3, other peo­ple around me will recog­nise that. If I can do it, any­one can do it.

“I re­ally want to stay in the civil con­struc­tion in­dus­try. I re­ally be­lieve in my heart I can stay here for the next 20-plus years.”

Pic­ture: PETER KELLY

Course par­tic­i­pants Pan Hu (front), Shane Booth and Trudi An­der­son at the Mamre House grounds yes­ter­day.

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