The Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union has welcomed comments by Skills Minister, Chris Evans, demanding resource companies employ more Australian apprentices before turning to migration agreements and foreign workers on their massive projects.
The union, which argued hard for the establishment of a jobs board to ensure local workers are considered for resource jobs, supported the Minister’s call for miners to sign up to the National Apprenticeships Program (NAP) to source skilled workers.
The NAP is part of an overall skilling strategy that includes traditional youth entry apprenticeships. The AMWU participates on its steering committee and has witnessed the impressive results of the program firsthand.
The union’s National President, Andrew Dettmer said, “Minister Evans is absolutely right to point out to miners that they should be backing proven programs and local skills before seeking enterprise migration agreements and foreign workers.
“The NAP program has proved remarkably successful at attracting experienced adult workers who already possess skills and are looking to complete their trade qualifications.
“It is a genuine program, supported by all stakeholders, that is providing terrific outcomes for workers and the companies that are engaged in employing and supporting them to complete their trade. It demonstrates what can be achieved through collaboration.
“The NAP program has 3,500 adult workers registered who are already 40% fully skilled and ready to work on these mining projects. And because of the recognised prior learning element, these workers gain their full qualifications over a much shorter time.
“The attempted justifications by big miners for wanting to use 457 visa workers because Australia lacks the skills needed for their large projects, while at the same time not even being signed up and employing workers from the NAP program, just don’t stand up.
“We agree with the Minister, but we think more can be done to ensure miners are employing and training local workers before they are granted enterprise migration agreements.
“Being signed up and employing those registered in NAP and other genuine programs, along with advertising and utilising the Jobs Board, must be mandatory before EMAs are granted.
“Workers are sick and tired of hearing big miners and their apologists like AMMA making excuses for their failure to employ local workers. These comments by Minister Evans should be heeded by mining companies. Local jobs and local workers should always come first.”