New construction jobs in Queensland are on the horizon, following a state government announcement that 10 solar projects could soon receive financial support from the Commonwealth.
Minister for Energy, Biofuels and Water Supply Mark Bailey revealed that the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) shortlisted the initiatives for long-term funding as part of a huge solar photovoltaic venture.
“Queensland has attracted nearly half of the 22 projects shortlisted by ARENA from across Australia, clearly showing that our sunshine-soaked state is becoming a destination of choice for the development of large-scale solar energy project,” he explained.
Mr Bailey said the announcement means significant employment opportunities will become available in the construction and operation of these solar projects. Apprenticeships and traineeships in Queensland could also receive a boost if businesses look to build a talented pipeline of qualified candidates to fill crucial positions.
The state government already runs the Solar 60 program, which offers favourable financing avenues for solar-based schemes that create up to 60 megawatts of power. Any ARENA shortlisted projects will become eligible for Solar 60 benefits if they are eventually selected.
“These projects aren’t just about delivering environmental outcomes, they’ll deliver real economic benefits too,” Mr Bailey stated.
Queensland unveils positive jobs data
The solar projects announcement came on the same day (January 14) that the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) unveiled key nationwide employment figures. The data showed Queensland’s unemployment rate dropped to its lowest point in two years during December.
According to the ABS, the proportion of the state’s population currently without a job is down to 5.9 per cent in trend terms. The Queensland government confirmed more than 60,000 jobs have been created since February last year.
Acting Premier Jackie Trad described the results as “outstanding”, adding that roughly 2,010 full-time roles on average became available each month over the last 11 months.
“Consumer confidence is up, business confidence is up and companies now have the confidence of a stable economy to put on new workers and explore new commercial opportunities,” she said.
Employment Minister Grace Grace echoed these sentiments, pointing to several large-scale investments designed to boost jobs in Queensland.
These include $10.1 billion of capital works over 2015-16, such as $3.9 billion for roads and transport and $1.3 billion on health and community infrastructure. The energy and water sectors will receive $2.4 billion in funding, which could spell further good news for the state’s solar projects.
By Leanne Macnamara, Public Relations Coordinator