16/12/2013 - 15:53

More work needed on skills training: report

16/12/2013 - 15:53

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Resources companies will turn to foreign workers to service $200 billion worth of oil and gas projects in the coming years unless there is greater investment in skills training, a new report has warned.

More work needed on skills training: report

Resources companies will turn to foreign workers to service $200 billion worth of oil and gas projects in the coming years unless there is greater investment in skills training, a new report has warned.

Employment in the oil and gas operations sector is expected to rise 57 per cent, from just less than 39,000 to 61,000 workers by 2018, as a number of massive liquefied natural gas projects come online, according to the Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency.

Over the same period, resources project construction employment is expected to fall sharply, from about 83,300 to 7,700 workers.

Meanwhile, employment in mining operations is forecast to grow steadily from 236,700 workers to 254,300 workers in 2018.

The transition to operations in the oil and gas sector will increase demand for specialised skills and create an acute undersuppply of appropriately skilled workers, the report says. 

"As our resources sector transitions to an operations phase and we embark on major liquefied natural gas and coal seam gas projects, resources companies will face challenges in recruiting and retaining workers with the required specialist operational skills and experience," AWPA chair Philip Bullock said.

"Global competition for skilled workers is increasing and with a long lead time required to develop critical skills, industry, government and education and training providers have an opportunity now to work together to develop responses to meet those skills challenges.

"Workforce planning needs to proceed quickly to ensure domestic workers are available to fill time-specific critical shortages in the second half of this decade."

The agency has called on resources companies and peak organisations to engage with a government-established industry working group to develop a national strategy for schools, including science, technology, engineering and mathematics skills initiatives.

It also wants to the government and the tertiary education sector to lead a national program for apprentices and trainees to develop skills suitable for servicing the LNG sector.

Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association chief executive David Byers said there already was a high level of investment in training and skills development from the oil and gas sector but the report showed more was needeed.

“If Australia is serious about capturing this next wave of natural gas projects we need to get serious about enhancing our international competitiveness in the face of growing global competition. The reality is the pipeline of opportunity will be turned off if we don’t make a greater effort to be more competitive," he said.

“Skills development is critical, but so too is productivity and this is an area where much more needs to be done. We need more flexibility in our labour market and less duplication and inefficiency in the regulatory processes that currently apply to major projects." 

Cost blowouts at massive LNG projects such as Chevron's $US54 billion Gorgon project have prompted oil and gas companies to look increasingly favourably on floating LNG technology for future projects, with the Woodside Petroleum-led Browse project the most notable example.

 

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