An Inland Rail Skills Academy has been launched to help create employment and education opportunities for communities in regional Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.
It aims to form partnerships between organisations and develop education, training, and jobs for regional areas.
The initiative will offer 20 undergraduate scholarships through the University of Southern Queensland, Charles Sturt University and La Trobe University to support local students to study industries contributing to the region’s prosperity.
Science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) workshops will also be provided to primary and secondary schools in the region to help inspire learning and interest in future careers.
ARTC employees will also be offered the ability to upgrade their skills and qualifications to deliver the project.
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Inland Rail Chief Executive Officer, Richard Wankmuller, said Inland Rail is set to not only change the way Australia moves freight between all mainland states, but will act as a catalyst for positive change in many regional communities along the alignment.
“Inland Rail will mean a new economic direction for some of these communities,” Wankmuller said.
“A major focus will be on building skills so that people and businesses are ready to take part in this once-in-a-generation project and the Inland Rail Skills Academy is one pathway for them to achieve that.”
“We need to have people ready to undertake the work, businesses ready to bid for the work and regional communities along the alignment will need to capitalise on the opportunities this will bring their future workforces.”
The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) will sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Australasian Railway Association (ARA) to address skilled labour shortages in rail construction, maintenance and operations of freight rail.
Apprenticeships and traineeship programs will be developed as part of the MOU for rail related disciplines in regions along the alignment.
It will also aim to build the capacity of small to medium enterprises in regional communities to participate in the Inland Rail supply chain.
Australasian Railway Association Chief Executive Danny Broad said the ARA welcomes ARTC’s commitment to create education, training, skills development and employment opportunities to support the Inland Rail project and looks forward to working to ensure the Academy develops training opportunities for skilled labour.
“We are seeing a renaissance in new rail in Australia, with an estimated $150 billion invested by governments in new freight and passenger projects all around Australia,” he said.
“Rail provides efficient, environmentally friendly, safe, cost effective land freight transport. Inland Rail will transform the medium to long distance freight supply chain by utilising integrated multi-modal outlets between our state capitals.”