Chal­lenge to keep the mix on the boil

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Careers In Construction -

FOR an in­dus­try that sud­denly finds it­self with a bulging or­der- book, any as­sis­tance it can get in the ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing of an ever- grow­ing work­force is greatly ap­pre­ci­ated. Un­der its con­trac­tual re­la­tion­ship with the Aus­tralian Gov­ern­ment, Skill­sDMC is a not- for- profit or­gan­i­sa­tion with the pri­mary role of ed­u­cat­ing and train­ing con­struc­tion work­ers with the flex­i­bil­ity to meet the range of in­dus­try needs and the rigour to sat­isfy ed­u­ca­tional and reg­u­la­tory re­quire­ments across Aus­tralia.

It used to be known as the Na­tional In­dus­try Skills Coun­cil for Drilling, Min­ing, Quar­ry­ing and Civil In­fra­struc­ture In­dus­tries, but Skill­sDMC chief ex­ec­u­tive, Des Caulfield, says the name change re­flects a mas­sive re- or­der­ing of the approach of the body.

He also be­lieves the cur­rent con­struc­tion boom is as much a re­flec­tion of short­ages as any­thing else.

‘‘ The prospects are very good but when we look out to the fu­ture, when you con­sider the pro­posed in­vest­ment in in­fra­struc­ture in a place like south- east Queens­land alone which has a pro­posed $ 100m of work set to go, there is lit­er­ally a de­mand for thou­sands of work­ers,’’ he says. ‘‘ The fu­ture looks very rosy in that area and in other states too.

‘‘ The rea­son is that the area of in­fra­struc­ture hasn’t re­ceived for a num­ber of years the ap­pro­pri­ate in­jec­tion of funds, but now state gov­ern­ments are look­ing at a num­ber of projects to en­sure that Aus­tralia keeps go­ing from an eco­nomic point of view.

‘‘ When you look at rail in terms of get­ting prod­uct to the ports, when you look at the ports in terms of get­ting ex­ports out, when you look at roads and telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions, etc, it’s quite sub­stan­tial. If you look at green util­i­ties like wind­farms, that’s all in the mix.’’

While Skill­sDMC will not pro­vide di­rect, recog­nised, train­ing pro­vi­sion, a range of qual­ity ser­vices and prod­ucts has been iden­ti­fied to en­able the Skills Coun­cil to as­sist and meet en­ter­prise skills de­vel­op­ment re­quire­ments in stream­lined, strate­gic and cost- ef­fec­tive ways.

The re­quire­ment for trained peo­ple is very strong, and Skill­sDMC is en­deav­our­ing to get in­dus­try to do some plan­ning and to look at what they need on the de­mand side and then ask how it can sup­ply the ap­pro­pri­ately skilled peo­ple to those ar­eas.

That cov­ers ev­ery­thing from civil en­gi­neers to drilling to work­ing mas­sive pieces of equip­ment.

‘‘ One of­ten hears the no­tion of un­skilled labour, but there’s no such thing any­more,’’ Mr Caulfield says.

‘‘ When you con­sider the equip­ment they use to­day and the re­spon­si­bil­ity re­quired for what tends to be very ex­pen­sive cap­i­tal and the out­comes of us­ing that equip­ment - many of th­ese peo­ple are clearly highly valu­able.

‘‘ The trou­ble we’re hav­ing is be­cause of the changes we’re hav­ing in work­place or­gan­i­sa­tion, so that de­mand for tra­di­tional ar­eas isn’t so strong.

‘‘ So we have to look at what com­pe­ten­cies are ac­tu­ally re­quired in the mod­ern work­place and the num­ber of peo­ple you need against each profile.

‘‘ We’re try­ing to help in­dus­try recog­nise those pat­terns of de­mand - we’re pro­vid­ing the in­dus­try with a means of pro­fil­ing against train­ing pack­ages by es­tab­lish­ing com­pe­ten­cies re­quired by op­er­a­tions, then help­ing peo­ple ac­quire those com­pe­ten­cies.’’ But civil and com­mer­cial con­struc­tion are not the only in­dus­tries be­ing held by pop­u­la­tion pres­sures, and Mr Caulfield be­lieves a broader strat­egy is re­quired if are to con­tinue fu­elling growth.

‘‘ It’s a mas­sive time and all sec­tors are feed­ing from the same source of labour and un­for­tu­nately that well is pretty dry, and it needs to be re­plen­ished,’’ he says.

‘‘ Peo­ple within the in­dus­try are tak­ing steps start­ing from school leavers: not only do we have labour short­ages but we also have skill short­ages, and we see in the fu­ture that this will in­crease un­less we act, be­cause the pro­jected birthrate and num­bers of school- leavers sim­ply does not match the num­ber cur­rently leav­ing the broader in­dus­try. Like many oth­ers, we have an age­ing pop­u­la­tion and also a nar­row­ing work­ing pop­u­la­tion, as peo­ple join us later and leave us ear­lier.

‘‘ This com­pares to the an­tic­i­pated huge in­flux of in­vest­ment over the next few years and the as­pect of how busy other in­dus­tries are at the mo­ment. The fright­en­ing thing is that peo­ple want skilled em­ploy­ees to­day, not to­mor­row.’’

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.