The federal government must identify the trades in high demand to ensure the JobTrainer package is effective, industry groups said yesterday.

While industry has welcomed the $2 billion JobTrainer package which extends financial support to trainees and apprentices, many warned that identifying the right skills in the right areas will be critical for Australia’s economic recovery.

Workforce modelling by industry has identified areas of high demand including the resources and energy sector, construction, mechanical trades and engineering and the renewable energy sector.

All of these trades and industries rely on refrigeration and air conditioning technicians.

Research commissioned by the Clean Energy Council (CEC) found there are 45,000 renewable jobs up for grabs and in many cases these positions could go to former coal workers and support regional areas.

The research was published on the Australian Engineers and Technical Tradies web site this week.

“Renewable energy jobs provide a good match for existing coal jobs across a range of blue and white-collar occupations, including construction and project managers, engineers, electricians, site administrators and mechanical technicians,” according to the research findings.

More than 450 Australian renewable energy businesses were surveyed for the research, covering large scale wind, solar and hydro, rooftop solar and batteries.

The CEC said the aim of the project was to find out how many people were employed in renewable energy and in what jobs. It is the first large-scale survey of renewable energy employment in Australia.

The director of operations at the Australian Resources and Energy Group (AMMA), Tara Diamond, said JobTrainer will help Australia’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This will assist in arresting the sliding number of apprentices and trainees, but longer-term will help more Australians access diverse, highly-paid and rewarding careers within the resources and energy industry,” she said.

“Understanding and pinpointing the areas of current and future workforce demand must be a priority for the government’s new skills package.

“Employers want to know specifically how the type of training is determined and what modelling will be used to identify the skills most in demand.”

An AMMA Workforce Modelling report, released a few months prior to COVID-19, estimated that new resources and energy projects would create around 21,000 new long-term jobs by 2024.

While the economic environment has changed markedly, Diamond said this modelling provides strong insight into what occupations in the resources and energy sector will be in demand.

The pre-COVID workforce modelling showed likely demand for 8,660 mining equipment operators, 2,847 heavy diesel fitters and 970 other tradespeople across electrical, mechanical and maintenance trades.

“This is just operating roles in the mining industry over the next four years. Factoring in construction trades required to build new resources and major public infrastructure projects, and the demands will be far greater,” Diamond said.

“Additionally, this focus on apprenticeships cannot afford to leave females behind. As we know the majority of trade apprenticeships are males - we must equally encourage both males and females to be skilled and up-skilled in trades.”


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