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OPINION: Investment in skills is critical for workforce

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The extension of the Federal Government’s Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements program will help create more qualified trade workers, critical for Australia’s workforce of today and tomorrow.

While the extension of the program until 30 June 2022 to grow Australia’s skilled workforce is a positive move, the MCA has called for it to be permanently funded, given the program’s success but also to acknowledge the long-term economic benefits of increasing apprenticeships.

The MCA has identified that electricians, engineering tradesperson – mechanical and automotive electricians, are essential for the digital transformation of mining.

Mining has helped sustain the Australian economy and the budget throughout the pandemic and continues to prepare for the demands of the future world – high tech and lower emissions.

Over 73,000 businesses have accessed the Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements program because it provides vital wage support during the first year of an apprenticeship.

Apprenticeships provide the opportunity for a highly skilled, highly paid career for life.

The actions of the mining industry, including the MCA’s Industry of Choice Framework, have resulted in a sustained increase in women and Indigenous Australians choosing an apprenticeship or traineeship in the mining industry.

The latest data from the National Centre for Vocational Education Research indicates more than 10,000 people are currently in an apprenticeship or traineeship in the mining industry. Women comprise more than 20 per cent of newly commencing apprentices and trainees. More than 10 per cent of newly commencing apprentices and trainees are Indigenous Australians.

The Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements and the Completing Apprenticeship Commencements programs have helped the mining industry support an additional 6,700 apprenticeships since the end of 2020.

These apprenticeships have been supported right across the mining supply chain all across the country.

Tania Constable

CEO, Minerals Council of Australia

Mining jobs fast facts:

– The Australian mining industry directly employs more than 274,000 people, increasing by 25,000 jobs in the past 12 months and more than 52,000 jobs in the last five years.
– 99 per cent of mining workers earn above-award wages and conditions.
– 88 per cent of mining workers are permanently employed and 96 per cent are full-time.
– Over the past decade, the share of casual workers in mining across Australia has averaged 13 per cent, compared to 24 per cent for all industries.
– Average full-time adult total earnings in mining was $144,000 in 2021, compared to $94,000 across all industries.

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