Speaking at the Department of Training and Workforce Development’s Training Providers Forum in Perth this week, Wendy Perry, Head Workforce Planner at Workforce BluePrint says that, “Western Australia is vast in every way including huge workforce opportunities on the back of the 2014 budget.”
Considering the WA state budget from a workforce development and planning point of view, there are a couple of stand outs contrasted with hidden underlying themes.
For the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector, providers must align to new opportunities addressing training needs for major projects such as:
- Iron Ore – Roy Hill
- Tourism particularly events ($10 million + $4 million for marketing)
- $4.6 billion for educational services for 2014-15 including 16 new primary schools, 3 high schools & air cooling in every school
- Local government
- Health with 13 new hospitals
- 16 new child & parent centres
“The ‘big build’ and major projects with workforce implications include Perth Stadium and transport infrastructure, Perth City Link, Elizabeth Quay, Forrestfield Airport Link, a new museum, Gateway WA, max light rail, hospitals and the prison extension. Training providers need to engage with industry and contractors to understand the skills requirements to support such activity”, recommends Wendy Perry
The investment in training is $686 million with a focus on:
- Culture, tourism and the arts in WA
- Sport for all
- Social and economic development in the Southern regions
- Primary industries and agriculture
- Mental health
- Housing affordability and local government
- Links to Asia
- Water and waste water infrastructure
“Aside from this direct investment there are other hidden opportunities for VET. Firstly working with year 11 and 12 students on a funded and fee for service basis with the new WACE. As students must have 14 C grades or higher and VET isn’t graded - I would expect a massive increase in demand for school students. Out of 20 units for the WACE, a Certificate III provides 6 units so coupled together with workplace learning units and/or a School Based Apprenticeship, providers will need to be responsive to students, parents and industry”, outlines Perry.
The Australia – China Natural Gas Partnership Fund and Gorgon Gas plus ICT functionality and investment for WA Health all have skilling implications.
“Focusing on Division 10 in the budget, funding for training and workforce development shows a dip for 2014-15 and then a slight increase with reductions in 2016-17 & 2017-18. With capped annual course fees for Certificate I-IV and Diploma-Advanced Diploma and the demerger of education and training shared services, there are many challenges into the future. The goal of, ‘A skilled workforce that meets the needs of Western Australia’ will become a potentially complex situation requiring engagement and negotiation with all stakeholders”, highlights Wendy Perry.
For Western Australia there are 600 priority qualifications, 500 apprenticeships and traineeships and 80 qualifications that are Priority Industry Qualifications in Future Skills WA. With the context of increasing unemployment there is an obvious mismatch of skills supply and demand. Revising Skills WA – Workforce Development plan along with the Joint Group Training Program should result in a WA workforce plan that is far more future orientated.
Wendy Perry points out that, “It seems the achievement of targets as a VET system isn’t yet good enough with employer satisfaction, Apprenticeship and Traineeship numbers, completion rates and graduate employment rates all falling short. Institutionalised based to employer based training has a 3 to 1 ratio and I’d suggest it should be the reverse.”
Royalties for Regions provides some opportunities, particularly for institutes all depending on the region with a focus on investment in the Southern region.
The Annual State of Small Business is an understated resource providing insight into business needs. Wendy recommends that, “All VET providers should be familiar with this report and check against what they know to be true of their clients.”
Purely from a VET perspective, the rise in fees, allocation of funding to teacher training, changes to the WACE, development of the greater Bunbury region and the Regional Buy Local Initiative ($9 million), investment in WA police should all be viewed as partnership opportunities.
“With tourism as a favoured industry sector, working in China, in major events, implementing the Caravan and Camping Action Plan as well as Aboriginal cultural experiences all highlight workforce needs”, says Wendy Perry.
Other areas to watch include workforce development needs from an increasing focus on:
- economic diversification;
- environmental sustainability;
- Aboriginal people supported via workforce development centres;
- people with disability with alternatives to employment and recreation; and
- all resulting in professional development activities.
And with specific industry and regional workforce development strategies needed to address:
- regulation of motor vehicle dealers and repairers which is under review
- review of the plumbing regulations – modernization of the framework from 1995 (I was just 22!)
- enforcement of the Local Industry Participation Framework for contractors and bidders
- capability requirements of technology parks, innovation and the digital economy
- specific client workforce needs are about seizing the opportunity for AgriFood & Farm Business, Horizon Power, Housing Authority (20 000 new affordable housing opportunities by 2020), Synergy, Western Power, Workcover WA
“There is much to do with the current version of the WA budget. The impact of a reduction in education and health funding from the Commonwealth surely must have an affect which is yet to be played out. VET providers must view the WA state budget as a signal point but the conclusions are not always linear as the impact of the federal budget and national VET reform are still things to come”, suggests Wendy Perry.
Email: [email protected]
Ph: +61 8 8387 9800 l Mobile: +61 (0)416 150 491 l Fax: +61 8 8387 9820
Wendy Perry and Associates (WPAA) was established in 2002 as a Vocational and Educational and Training (VET) specialist with Workforce BluePrint (a division of the company) launched in 2006. The company provides workforce development and planning, VET and contact centre consultancy, and small business support services in addition to projects completed for Commonwealth, State/Territory and local governments.
Workforce BluePrint provides Workforce Development and Planning Services for Clusters, Community Development, Firms, Industry Development, Major Projects, Networks, Organisations, Regional, Rural and Remote Development, Small and Medium Sizes Enterprises (SME), Small Business Health Checks, Supply Chain and Value Chains.
Wendy A Perry, Head Workforce Planner
M: +61 416 150 491