Fortescue Metals Group has set an ambitious target of having Aboriginal workers fill 20 per cent of all trades positions in its workforce, on the back of an apprenticeship program launched today.
The Trade Up Aboriginal apprenticeship program will take up to 40 employees from the company’s workforce each year.
“By 2022, we will have 20 per cent of our tradespeople (who) are indigenous,” Fortescue chief executive Nev Power said today.
“A lot of people might say that’s a very ambitious target.
“We love ambitious, stretch targets at Fortescue and the one thing we love more than setting them is beating them, so I’d be very surprised if we haven’t beaten that one by 2022.”
Fortescue’s direct employed workforce is currently 13 per cent Aboriginal and about 1,000 Aboriginal people work for the company or its contractors.
The Trade Up program is supported by eight contractors currently working with Fortescue – Downer, Goodline, Thiess and DVG Automotive Group, which is expanding into mining services through the sale and servicing of light vehicles.
These contractors also operate joint ventures, namely GUMA ICRG JV and EGWYC.
“All of the participating contractors will provide opportunities for work in a range of businesses and different trades for the successful applicants, ensuring the success of the program,” Mr Power said.
The participants in the program will do a 12-month traineeship and then have an opportunity to convert into full-time apprentices.
The pilot program will have 24 participants, drawn from 72 applicants.
Mr Power said Fortescue was committed to creating economic opportunities for Aboriginal people through training, employment and business development “by providing a hand up, not a hand out”.
“Consistent with our land access agreements, we are again delivering a sustainable program that will deliver generational benefits to our native title partners,” he said.
The Trade Up apprenticeship program builds on Fortescue’s existing VTEC program, which aims to provide training with assured employment.
The VTEC model has been adopted by the federal government for a national scheme.
Nine organisations running VTEC programs in WA – including Fortescue, CCIWA and the Wirrpanda Foundation - have contracted to deliver 1,575 indigenous jobs by the end of 2015.