UPSKILL FOR JOBS BOOM
ST MARYS TRAINING PROGRAM ADDRESSES ‘CRYING DEMAND’ FOR WORKERS
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.”
Course participants Pan Hu (front), Shane Booth and Trudi Anderson at the Mamre House grounds yesterday.