More contractors are sought for work placements
It was great to see Minister for Transport Hon Rita Saffioti MLA visiting North Metropolitan TAFE this morning to meet students taking part in the Infrastructure Ready training program - including some who have just completed their work placement (the final step of the program). Minister Saffioti and the Government are justly proud of this program and CCF WA has been pleased to be involved in its development from the outset, providing a vital industry perspective.
Program participants undertake a 3-week skill set (comprising 6 introductory-level units of competency, as recommended by CCF's Training Committee) followed by a 4-day work placement.
The feedback from contractors who have hosted work placements has been very positive. The robust screening process for Infrastructure Ready candidates, developed by industry in collaboration with Government, has proven effective, with candidates demonstrating they are 'work ready' and eager for an opportunity. Already we are hearing success stories, with some participants finding jobs directly with their work placement hosts.
I visited a number of our Contractor Members hosting work placements this week, including Enviro Infrastructure who are doing some works for PTA in East Perth. Pictured below are Enviro Infrastructure HSEQ Officer Joe Nash, Infrastructure Ready program participants Allan Holper and Paul Holmes, and Enviro Infrastructure Site Supervisor Cam Matthews.
Enviro Infrastructure's General Manager David Schlueter said: "We applaud the efforts of DTWD, OMTID and CCFWA in accelerating the prioritisation of upskilling initiatives such as Infrastructure Ready. Enviro are embracing the opportunity to redeploy workers from sectors affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and retrain them in the challenging, diverse and highly rewarding WA civil industry.”
How you can help
The Government aims to put 250 people through the Infrastructure Ready program before Christmas, and potentially hundreds more next year, and has asked CCF to assist with finding companies to host work placements, whether this year or early next year. So if your company is willing to host a work placement, or interested in finding out what's involved, please contact the program facilitator at email@example.com. It's not expected that all hosts will be able to offer immediate employment to candidates, and we understand the Government is currently finalising an online portal where graduates can be 'matched' to potential employers.
CCF WA has engaged extensively with the Office of Major Transport Infrastructure Development (OMTID), the Department of Training and Workforce Development, and other Government stakeholders on the design of the Infrastructure Ready program. From the outset, OMTID has made it clear that it expects our industry to find jobs for hundreds of Infrastructure Ready graduates on its projects, and it will be setting contractual targets to ensure that happens.
OMTID has however also acknowledged that placing a high volume of entry-level workers on complex projects will affect productivity on those projects, and that contractors will need to be fairly recompensed for the reduced productivity of new workers, and the higher level of supervision they require. Those discussions are still ongoing.
While there will no doubt be issues to work through, the Infrastructure Ready program does offer an opportunity for our industry to work with government to help address skills shortages that are already hitting our sector and will get more severe in the coming months and years. Furthermore, this program, and the level of publicity it is getting thanks to Minister Saffioti and others, is also raising community awareness of civil construction and highlighting that our industry can offer fulfilling and rewarding trade-level and professional careers. Increasingly, civil construction is gaining broader recognition as an industry in its own right and not just an offshoot of the building or mining industries. I hope we can look back in a couple of years and recognise this program as a game-changer.
(And speaking of game-changers, our proposal to have Civil Construction traineeships re-classified as Apprenticeships is still being considered and we remain hopeful of an announcement soon. This would be another important step in raising the status of civil construction as a 'real' trade-level career.)
- Andy Graham, CCF WA CEO