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.

latest news

Adani to help triple coal exports to India

Adani's Carmichael coal mine could help triple Australia's thermal coal exports to India, a new report has found.

Read more

Resources industry training launched for teachers

Science teachers across the Pilbara will be given resource sector-specific training as part of a new initiative aiming to equip them with relevant and current industry knowledge.

Read more

Climate-mining debate must respect regions

Business groups say people in regional Australia must be listened to amid debate over the impact of the resources sector on climate change.

Read more

Westfarmers kills off $1.5b takeover tilt

Wesfarmers has finally killed off its $1.5 billion takeover tilt at rare earths miner Lynas Corporation.

Read more

MinRes Boss volunteers to cut his salary

Mineral Resources Boss Chris Ellison will trim his salary by $300,000 following a review of company remuneration that will also see a shake-up of short and long-term incentive plans for key executives.

Read more

Lynas confirms Malaysian licence renewal

Rare earths miner Lynas Corp has confirmed the receipt of a renewed operating licence from Malaysia for its processing plant there.

Read more


industry insight

The golden question

Earlier this year the Australian gold price tipped over the $2000 mark for the first time in its

Products and Technology

Golden fungi could point to future discoveries 

Can nature offer yet more clues at the Earth’s surface to indicate the presence of gold below?

People and Projects

What’s old is new again 

While there has been a lot of hype around the role of lithium in the electric battery revolution, copper is also poised to play a role in powering next-generation

Occupational Health and Safety

Espousing the importance of spacial sciences

Mine surveyors play a critical role in the design, planning and safety of mine operations, responsible for producing accurate plans, observations,



The nuclear option

It has been a long-running debate in Australia – should strict laws around nuclear energy be relaxed?

Read more