FUNDING is still available to assist employees and enterprises within the minerals and resources industries to improve skills and workplace productivity, SkillsDM has said. The nationally-recognised advisory board said that funds were still available from the $20.5 million allocated by the Commonwealth Government to the coal mining, metalliferous mining, quarrying (extractive), drilling and civil infrastructure sectors through the National Workforce Development Fund (NWDF).
The NWDF was launched in 2011 to provide $558 million during four years to support training and workforcedevelopment in areas facing skills shortages. According to SkillsDM, the NWDF can provide between 34 per cent and 67 per cent of the cost of delivering nationally-endorsed qualifications and skills sets. The first instalment of the funds was focussed on workplace training
and was allocated in late 2011. The Federal Government is now undertaking the second round of funding, covering qualifications ranging from Certificate III through to Advanced Diplomas in a complete range of operational and professional streams. In addition, Certificate II qualifications can be approved for funding if targeted at new workers. “A number of enterprises such as Civil Contractors Federations (Northern Territory), Ngarda Civil and Mining, and Rio Tinto Iron Ore were quick to take up the opportunity the fund provides,” SkillsDMC chief executive officer Steve McDonald said. “These three examples alone will make a valuable contribution to the strengthening of Australia’s workforce capacity. These projects put industry at the heart of the skills development process, working in partnership with government: an approach that gives workers and job seekers the best possible chance of securing and maintaining a job in these industries.”
Funding is also available, upon application, for projects targeting women in non-traditional occupations, indigenous engagement and mature-age mentoring. Ngarda Civil and Mining chief operations officer Damien Burton said the company would focus its funding on these priority groups, in addition to young people at risk.
“The funding from NWDF will support Ngarda People’s [the indigenous recruitment and training unit of Ngarda Civil] implemented strategic approach to up-skill and train both existing and new employees,” he said.
According to Mr McDonald, the NWDF would provide “invaluable” opportunities to up-skill and re-skill the current and future workforce. “Through our industry engagement, we have a detailed understanding of the breadth and depth of skills challenges in the resources and infrastructure industry. The NWDF provides a tangible and meaningful opportunity for enterprises to overcome some of these challenges, though it’s an opportunity that won’t last long,” he said.


Rachel Dally-Watkins