Weld Australia is calling on the Federal Government to invest in the future of local skilled workers throughout the Northern Territory. Weld Australia urges the Federal Government to establish Advanced Welder Training Centres (AWTCs) in Darwin and Alice Springs.
According to Geoff Crittenden (CEO, Weld Australia), “The Northern Territory faces a critical shortage of qualified and certified welders which means, despite local labour content agreements, Territorians are missing out on employment opportunities in gas, defence, infrastructure and resources projects in favour of short term FIFO tradesmen.”
With the wind-up of construction work on the Inpex LNG project late last year, the Northern Territory economy is experiencing one of the most severe downturns in recently history. Employment growth dropped significantly over the last 10 years, from 6% in 2008, to a deficit of -0.6% in September 2018.
The investment called for by Weld Australia will help prevent future ‘boom and bust’ cycles that are exacerbated when fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) workers—such as the 10,000 FIFO workers that were employed on the Inpex project—leave Darwin at the conclusion of a project.
Crittenden said, “Whilst the national demand for welders is rising, in the Northern Territory it fell by 9.2% in the year to October 2017. Extrapolating, one could expect this trend to have continued in 2018. Apprentice completions are in decline as employment opportunities dry up.”
“The Northern Territory is in a downward spiral where the lack of skilled welders is driving opportunities away from local companies which in turn is forcing the number of qualified welders to decline.”
“Whilst the overall unemployment rate is at 5%, this doesn’t take into account the number of workers that have been forced to look for work outside the Territory.”
“With an Indigenous unemployment rate of 18% the Northern Territory has a pool of labour that, if trained to the appropriate standard, could make a significant contribution to defence projects under the mandatory Indigenous participation program. This could be achieved either directly or through SME participation in project supply chains.”
“Advanced Welder Training Centres in Darwin and Alice Springs could help break the nexus between available skilled labour and employment opportunity thereby facilitating growth in local industry,” said Crittenden.
Advanced Welder Training Centres (AWTCs) feature a state-of-the-art training lab equipped with augmented and virtual reality welding simulators.
The combination of a curriculum based on global best practice delivered via advanced training technology will, together with on-the-job training, help ensure a strong supply of capable welders in the territory for years to come.