• Apprentice on the job.
    Apprentice on the job.

Weld Australia is urging the federal government to invest in a national network of Indigenous Welding Schools.

According to the Productivity Commission’s first review of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap released this week, governments are not adequately delivering on their commitments made as part of the agreement.

Weld Australia CEO, Geoff Crittenden, said welding schools not only align with the national socio-economic targets of the Closing the Gap agreement—enhancing education, employment, and community development for Indigenous Australians—but also offers a tangible solution to the pressing need for skilled labour in the welding industry.”

“For the past five years, Weld Australia has approached every government in a bid to secure funding to create a national network of Indigenous Welding Schools that use the latest augmented reality and advanced welding systems. We have been largely rebuffed by governments of all persuasions,” he said.

The Indigenous Welding Schools program would be predominantly run by Indigenous educators and trades people who would mesh the practical demands of the welding trade with a culturally appropriate curriculum, pastoral support and employment pathways to deliver gate-ready welders to industry.

Students would graduate qualified and certified to the internationally recognised welding competency standard ISO 9606.

The model and technology would be identical to that deployed by Weld Australia in its highly successful existing programs: the VET Centre of Excellence in seven Corrections Victoria prisons; and the NSW Advanced Manufacturing Schools Outreach Program, implemented in over 65 schools.

Australia is facing a looming shortage of skilled welders—70,000 additional welders will be needed in the next 10 years.

Demand is being driven by defence, infrastructure and resource projects and exacerbated by supply chain issues promoting growth in local companies. The upcoming renewable energy boom will further overheat the market.