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Skill shortage focus of national conference

Skill shortage focus of national conference

Encouraging more Australians into training programs was the focus of a recent conference.

Australia’s lucrative mining sector is putting extreme pressure on the current workforce to meet labour demands, minister for immigration and citizenship Chris Bowen said at a conference yesterday (August 2).

Addressing the Australian Mines and Metals Association Migration and Labour sourcing conference in Brisbane, Mr Bowen said investing in a new skilled workforce was integral to the country’s thriving resource industry.

With 98 major projects under development throughout Australia, the mining industry represents more than $500 billion in investment and expenditure.

Mr Bowen said the government had earmarked $15.6 billion towards skills and training over the next four years – including apprentice funding.

“Of course the government’s first priority is to see Australians benefit from opportunities in the resources sector – and we’re putting enormous effort into upskilling and training Australians,” he said.

As a part of the government’s commitment to the cause, 200,000 trainees and apprentices across the country have received a financial boost to assist with their training.

“We’ve also seen a 14 per cent increase in the number of people undertaking apprenticeships and traineeships over the three and a half years to June 2011,” Mr Bowen added.

A funding boost of $700 million has also been delivered through the National Workplace Development Fund to encourage and assist employers with training new workers as well as with upskilling staff.

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