Industry representative body Weld Australia has called on the Federal Government to invest in the future of local skilled workers throughout the Northern Territory.
Weld Australia CEO Geoff Crittenden is urging the Federal Government to establish Advanced Welder Training Centres (AWTCs) in Darwin and Alice Springs.
Advanced Welder Training Centres feature training labs equipped with augmented and virtual reality welding simulators.
According to Crittenden, the Northern Territory faces a critical shortage of qualified and certified welders.
“Despite local labour content agreements, Territorians are missing out on employment opportunities in gas, infrastructure and resources projects in favour of short term fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) tradesmen,” Crittenden said.
“With the wind-up of construction work on the Inpex LNG project late last year, the Northern Territory economy is experiencing one of the most severe downturns in recently history.”
According to Crittenden employment growth in the state has dropped significantly over the last 10 years — from 6 per cent in 2008, to a deficit of -0.6 per cent in September 2018.
“The investment called for by Weld Australia will help prevent future ‘boom and bust’ cycles that are exacerbated when FIFO workers — such as the 10,000 FIFO workers that were employed on the Inpex project,” Crittenden said.
“Whilst the national demand for welders is rising, in the Northern Territory it fell by 9.2 per cent in 2017. Extrapolating, one could expect this trend to continue. Apprentice completions are in decline as employment opportunities dry up.”
According to Crittenden, the combination of a curriculum based on global best practice delivered via advanced training technology would, together with on-the-job training, help ensure a strong supply of capable welders in the territory for years to come.
“Advanced Welder Training Centres in Darwin and Alice Springs could help break the nexus between available skilled labour and employment opportunity, thereby facilitating growth in local industry,” Crittenden said.