Training today for the jobs of tomorrow

With the jobs of tomorrow increasingly influenced by robotics and automation, industry stakeholders have partnered to introduce the  rst nationally recognised quali cations in automation.

Responding to widespread concerns around a lack of STEM-based training in the mining sector, Rio Tinto has collaborated with South Metropolitan TAFE and the Western Australian Government to prepare workers for the next generation of resources jobs.

A Certificate II in Autonomous Workplace Operations will be introduced to TAFE curriculum and piloted by a group from Rio Tinto’s iron ore workforce from this month. It will also be delivered as a pilot Vocational Education and Training (VET) for secondary students from Cecil Andrews College, Gilmore College, Baldivis Secondary College and Karratha Senior High School.

A micro-credential course, Working Effectively in an Automated Workplace, will help trade-qualified workers and apprentices address a gap in formal quali cations for the automation pathway.

The two courses are the  rst initiatives to come out of the Resource Industry Collaboration, which was set up last year by the WA Government in conjunction with industry stakeholders such as Rio Tinto, FMG and BHP.

Rio Tinto contributed $2 million towards the training program.

WA Premier Mark McGowan said the new TAFE qualifications would position WA workers to take full advantage of the many exciting opportunities automation is expected to deliver.

“This is a great example of industry working in partnership with government to ensure our training sector creates a highly skilled workforce,” he said.

“These new courses will allow us to maintain our competitive advantage as a leader in automation technology.”

Ai Group WA State Manager Kristian Stratton agreed programs of this nature would be critical for an increasingly STEM-based sector.

“You can clearly see STEM is such a critical pathway to getting jobs in the mining space,” he said.

“WA leads the way in mining technology globally so we should have training systems that are aligned with that to make sure they fit the purpose of the future.”

With a much talked about skills shortage looming, Mr Stratton said the government and private sector couldn’t afford to be reactive.

“Industry needs to engage with education at a greater level and show kids what the future looks like in some of these roles and the opportunities in the workforce,” he said.

School of Mines ushers in new era

As reported in the April edition of National Mining Chronicle, Curtin’s WA School of Mines (WASM) is developing a revised curriculum to ensure students can meet the changing needs of the industry.

The course, which is set to be finalised this year and gradually rolled out in 2020, will take on a more industry- focused approach, according to recently appointed WASM Director Sabina Shugg.

Ms Shugg, a second-generation WASM graduate, said it the emphasis would be helping students transition from the classroom to the workplace.

“There’s no point having technical success and a student that ticks all the right boxes,” she said. “They need to be able to work with industry.

“Planned changes to the curriculum are ongoing, but we have had huge amounts of industry involvement and alumni involvement. It’ll be a much more dynamic approach to the course.

“It’s a really exciting time in that we are rolling out this new, agile curriculum.”

Coming from a private sector background, Ms Shugg said she had the right experience to usher in a new era for Australia’s top mining school.

“We are going to be engaging with and getting better outcomes for industry, better outcomes for students and better outcomes for Kalgoorlie and the mining sector,” she said. “That’s where we are really going to shine.”

Ms Shugg, who is the mining college’s  rst female director and a strong advocate for women in mining, said she would try to develop a diverse and inclusive environment at WASM.

“There is a lot of research which says diverse work environments provide great creative outcomes,” she said.

“That’s what we are going to need if we are going to help the mining industry survive through good and bad times. We need diverse teams and in our study environments too.”

Curtin is hoping the revamped curriculum will bring students back to the mining school, where enrolments have dramatically declined since WA’s mining boom.

“Student numbers are starting to increase and we’ve got a real focus,” Ms Shugg said.

“It has turned the corner. To keep it turning, we need to keep everyone engaged throughout the cycles.

“What we need to do is get out there and show the community there is a range of opportunities in mining. There are great opportunities to learn, develop and do new things.”

Image: WA Premier Mark McGowan (left) and Rio Tinto Iron Ore Chief Executive Chris Salisbury.

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