CSG, LNG, Markets, Projects, Technology

Addressing skills demands in Australia’s booming industries

The future of energy generation is undergoing considerable upheaval, as carbon, emission and economic factors combine. Energy Skills Queensland is working with Construction Skills Queensland to prepare a Workforce Development Plan for the coal seam gas (CSG)/LNG industry.

Growth on three fronts

Aside from global issues, which themselves are very influential,there are three main national contributing factors to the rapid growth of the resources industries.

1. Australia is experiencing an economic boom in its resource sector, which has generated a lot of excitement as the LNG and CSG industries have a significant role to play.
2. Australia’s population is growing and governments are focusing on strategies for the projected national population to increase from the current 20 million, to close to 32 million.
3. The Federal and Queensland governments’ decision to support economic recovery from the global financial crisis through a “resources-led recovery”? puts energy squarely in the spotlight, as recently reinforced by the Federal Government’s establishment of the National Resource Sector Employment Taskforce.

These developments required the construction of massive infrastructure, which demands skilled labour.

Infrastructure requirements

The provision of infrastructure is not an easy task. Inequalities in skilled labour distribution between the different occupational areas, projects, states and regions in Australia already exist.

If not managed effectively and efficiently, existing skill shortages and inequalities will potentially increase across a range of occupational areas. This will be exacerbated if competition between the construction, key resource industries, states and projects occurs in an adhoc, isolationist, and purely self-interested fashion.

As a result, wide range of measures are required if the construction industry is to meet the demands placed upon it by Australia’s multi-sector growth.

Workforce development plan

The objectives of the Energy Skills Queensland and Construction Skills Queensland plan are to:

* Research the capacity of the workforce to meet the growing demands from the CSG/LNG industry.
* Identify which skills are critical to the construction of infrastructure.
* Identify limited supply of skills and determine how such shortages can be addressed.
* Investigate the capacity of vocational training resources to deliver relevant training to meet existing, and forecasted skills gaps and the demands which are expected to flow from the projected economic growth.
* Recommend industry-based solutions so governments can tailor their response to effectively address existing and further potential inequalities in the distribution of skilled labour.
* Identify the short and long term challenges and barriers posed by utilising skilled labour from overseas to meet Australia’s skill shortages.

Collaborative action

Energy Skills Queensland believes that support and collaboration must occur among key stakeholders, in order for these measures to effectively meet skills shortages. Key stakeholders in this challenge include: construction companies, employer and industry associations, unions, training providers, as well as state and federal governments.

Jane Chidgey is Workforce Planning Manager with Energy Skills Queensland.

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