Long-term strategies to address workforce challenges in WA were discussed by business leaders at the WA Skills Summit.
More than 130 business leaders representing a range of sectors including resources and construction attended the rescheduled summit.
Premier Mark McGowan said the summit provided a valuable opportunity for government and industry to work together to address immediate workforce challenges to support the WA economy while enhancing the State’s ongoing commitment to local training and jobs.
"Our strong economic position is putting significant pressure on the availability of skilled workers in WA,” Mr McGowan said.
“We have come away from the Skills Summit with a range of tangible solutions and we are getting straight to work on implementing them.
“Our economy is strong and together we have defied the economic turmoil seen throughout much of the world. We will continue to be agile and responsive to industry’s needs as we address our workforce challenges and deliver continued strong results for the WA economy.”
Education and Training Minister Sue Ellery said the growing demand for skilled workers was caused by low unemployment and international border restrictions.
“The concepts that came from the Skills Summit will shape further planning, strategy and decisions to assist WA’s workforce needs,” she said.
AAPEA Western Australian Director Claire Wilkinson said the commitments of the oil and gas industry in working with government to create local jobs and training opportunities would ensure WA had the skills to keep mines running.
“When COVID-19 hit, APPEA member companies responded by prioritising local workers and moving interstate workers to Western Australia wherever possible through incentives and relocation packages,” Ms Wilkinson said.
“But despite these efforts in training local workers and relocating interstate workers to Western Australia, the industry will continue to require specialised skillsets from interstate to maintain the sustainability and safety of our WA operations.
“APPEA looks forward to continuing our work with the Government to address these skills challenges and provide the reliable energy, local jobs and regional investment needed to drive Western Australia’s economy.”
AAPEA worked collaboratively with Government through the LNG Jobs Taskforce to promote local jobs and opportunities.
Taskforce initiatives supporting skills include Forward Work Plans, aimed at maximising job opportunities for local businesses, and LNG Operator Skills Framework, which will standardise LNG worker training.
Ms Wilkinson said specialised skills were still required from interstate.
“The oil and gas industry supplies the energy used by WA’s booming mining sector, bringing more jobs and revenue to the State,” she said.
“It’s critical that travel and quarantine requirements balance the health and wellbeing of Western Australians while delivering the skills needed for essential industries to continue operating.”
Summit initiatives that addressed these concerns included 5,000 more onshore places as part of the State Nominated Migration Program, which has already seen large numbers of expressions of interests from those living interstate after the addition of 134 occupations, as well as a targeted advertising campaign to attract interstate and New Zealand workers.
Additional initiatives from the State Government included:
Bringing forward the Jobs and Skills WA Adult Apprentice Employer Incentive’s places for 2022-23 after having all 100 places filled for the financial year; reviewing the infrastructure program and McGowan Government’s Asset Investment Program;
Partnering with the Wirrpanda Foundation to improve Aboriginal youth employment;
Helping disadvantaged learner drivers get a driver’s license; and
Introducing Regional Skills Summits across the State.