In Transport

Victoria Shadow Minister for Tertiary Education and Training Peter Hall

John Brumby Must Address Skills Shortages In Rail Industry

Victor P Taffa

A lack of Brumby Government support for apprentices and trainees will cause ongoing critical skills shortages in Victoria’s rail industry for at least three years according to Shadow Minister for Tertiary Education and Training and Nationals Leader in the Legislative Council Peter Hall.

An all-party Parliamentary inquiry has found the number of apprenticeships in Victoria is ‘negligible’ compared to other states in Australia.

Mr. Hall, a member of the Education and Training Committee which conducted the inquiry, said the Victorian rail industry was experiencing severe skills shortages and recruitment difficulties.

The Committee found that with the predicted growth in passenger and freight operations and increasing competitiveness in the national and international rail industry, it was vital that the local skills needs of the industry be met.

“The Committee believes the State Government should take a lead role in improving the number of traditional trade-based apprenticeships in the Victorian rail industry.” Mr. Hall said.

“It has been suggested that there should be obligations for training and engaging apprentices as part of any rolling stock government contracts, similar to those which currently apply for local content requirements.”

Mr. Hall said the idea was supported by the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union in its submission to the Inquiry: ‘The Victorian Government should ensure through its contracts that a minimum ration of apprentices is supported for the entire length of a four year apprenticeship’.

“Concerns were also raised about the current structure of procurement contracts which do not allow an apprentice to start and finish their apprenticeship on the one contract.” Mr. Hall said.

“The Committee has called on the State Government to develop a rail industry manufacturing strategy which sets out the government’s long-term procurement strategy, and a local content policy which includes considerations such as training requirements.”

“The government cannot turn a blind eye to the deepening skills shortage crisis in Victoria’s rail industry – steps must be taken to address this worrying trend.” Mr. Hall said.

Editor Victor P Taffa will contest the New South Wales 2011 State Election in the seat of Newcastle. Central to the campaign will be to retain the Newcastle Railway Line into the CBD.

In addition to other policy positions is a commitment to develop a Railway Manufacturing Industry in New South Wales.

Currently the New South Wales Government imports railway carriages and final assembly is conducted locally.

Not only should electric locomotives, railway and tramway rolling stock be manufactured locally but Australian expertise should lead to exporting rolling stock to other countries.

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