New WA department to focus on training

31/08/2009 - 14:31


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The state government is to create a new department dedicated to training and will rebrand Tafe colleges as part of plans to ensure the state's skills base has the appropriate attention as WA gears up for a big rise in economic activity.

New WA department to focus on training

The state government is to create a new department dedicated to training and will rebrand Tafe colleges as part of plans to ensure the state's skills base has the appropriate attention as WA gears up for a big rise in economic activity.

Premier Colin Barnett said State Cabinet had today made an in-principle decision to create a new Department of Training and Workforce Development, which will be created by splitting the Department of Education and Training.

The new department, to be overseen by Training Minister Peter Collier, will include the state's Tafe colleges and will be headquartered in the existing department's head office area at Silver City in East Perth. It will have around 300 staff although there is no budget defined for it as yet.

Mr Barnett said the government is searching for a suitable chief executive to head the new department and details of its function will be finalised over the next couple of months.

"WA is not heading towards an economic boom but we do face an unprecedented opportunity," Mr Barnett said.

"There is an opportunity of perhaps 10 to 20 years of steady strong economic growth and that needs to be matched with strong development in our community in all areas whether it be health, education, care for the elderly or whatever factor we look at.

"With major projects coming to fruition, led by Gorgon, it is important we have in place a work force of Western Australians and Australians and perhaps people from elsewhere in the world so we don't face a skills shortage in particular areas."

In addition, Mr Barnett said the government will also move to rebrand various Tafe colleges around the state in order to lift the status of training, which is perceived as the poor cousin to education.

The government plans to further increase the specialist functions of certain Tafe colleges and promote them as 'centres of excellence'.

Mr Collier said today the government had set aside $4 million in its last budget to market training in WA.

The move has been welcomed by various resources lobby groups including the Chamber of Minerals and Energy, the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies and the Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association.




The announcement is below:



The State Government has taken a further step towards preparing Western Australia for the next surge in the resources industry with a continued focus on skills training and education.

Premier Colin Barnett today announced the creation of the Department of Training and Workforce Development (a shift from the combined Department of Education and Training) to ensure a more focused delivery of both education and training services to the community.

The new Department of Training and Workforce Development continues the commitment on jobs and training established by the Liberal-National Government in this year's State Budget with its raft of initiatives to boost training in WA, including course fee exemptions for unemployed people.

The Government's initiative will:

- Increase the skill and competitiveness of WA's workforce
- Address emerging skill gaps as the economy grows
- Respond to skilled migration demands and labour constraints as they emerge
- Deliver a contemporary and relevant apprenticeship and traineeship system that is responsive to industry and community needs
- Drive reforms in the training sector, including providing greater independence to TAFEWA Colleges and reducing the complexity of the training system
- Build a closer relationship between industry and training providers
- Encourage a stronger training culture within industry
- Increase participation and upskilling for the unemployed or disengaged from training
- Increase the participation of young and indigenous people
- Expand access to training in rural and regional areas
- Ensure the quality of private trainers, especially when they attract international students

Mr Barnett said the changes would help better prepare WA to capitalise on a period of economic prosperity spanning decades.

"With the system this Government inherited, training was placed in the shadow of the larger education portfolio. This re-focus will change that and elevate the status of training," he said.

"This structure will provide a greater focus on both education and training services and ensure there is an uncluttered commitment and drive by singular departments.

"We have to make training attractive and relevant and a first option for many people, especially young people.

"The new department will focus on elevating training across the State and working across government, at both the State and national level, to plan and prepare Western Australia's workforce to avoid gaps in both skilled and unskilled labour.

"With a period of long-term economic development driven by the resources sector nearing with projects like Ord Stage Two, Oakajee Port, Gorgon, the Perdaman urea plant and our record $8.3billion asset investment program, the Liberal-National Government has been building capacity to ensure jobs and training are delivered.

"We are now ensuring we have people with the relevant skills needed to capitalise on the thousands of job opportunities resource and development projects will create.

"The Liberal-National Government inherited shortages and deficiencies by the former Labor government in many areas and we have to fix problems of the past to ensure we capitalise on the opportunities we are creating for the future.

"Unfortunately Western Australians saw very little benefit out of our recent boom years with land shortages and no long-term strategic planning.

"I want to change that so we focus on a smarter, better trained WA that will reap the rewards of our natural resources and entrepreneurial drive.

"In its first year, the Liberal-National Government has worked ferociously to ensure these projects go ahead. It has been a co-ordinated effort of great intensity, working with companies and the Commonwealth."

Training Minister Peter Collier was enthusiastic about the greater emphasis on training in WA.

"At the training level, we have an immediate job to ensure young people and older people who may have lost their job or require re-training, can acquire skills that will not only enable them to work in the mining and petroleum sector, but also fill gaps left by workers attracted to the resources industry," Mr Collier said.

"Within the resources sector there are hundreds of jobs - from truck driving, geology, and engineering to IT, computer-assisted design and a range of continually evolving scientific advancements that demand ongoing education and training.

"We are also talking about jobs in the automotive industry, construction, hospitality, in laboratories and, importantly, 'green jobs'.

"Unlike the squandered opportunity of the last economic boom, the benefits of the coming sustained economic growth will be used by this Government to improve services in health, education, regional development and law and order and for the most vulnerable and needy in the community."


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