"The Federal Government's Clean Energy workforce report released today provides a welcome base and directions to ensure the nation develops the workforce required to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. But much of the hard work identified on education and training system reform is yet to be realised," Innes Willox, Chief Executive of the national employer association Ai Group said today.
"Ai Group members have been reporting skill shortages across a number of clean energy core occupations for some years, including skilled tradespeople and energy professionals.
"Key occupations are required across multiple segments of the clean energy industry. These operational and maintenance roles will grow and be re-shaped by new technologies. Dynamic growth means that new and hybrid roles will continue to emerge that require new skills. This places importance on building deep, technical skills but also generic and transferable skills.
"The report's comprehensive definition of what the clean energy workforce is establishes a useful set of categories and the supply and demand modelling highlights workforce gaps across a range of scenarios towards net zero.
"Importantly the report addresses regional Australia, considering both emerging skills gaps and opportunities for growth. It considers challenges in the clean energy sector for women, First Nations people and migrants, looks at the needs of workers in transitioning industries and acknowledges tight competition for skilled migrants in the industry.
"It determines that Australia will need to consider the full range of levers across the education, training, migration, procurement, and workplace relations systems to ensure a sustainable and equitable path towards net zero.
"Ai Group has advocated the need for a number of system-wide education and training changes over the past year that will underpin a right-sized and capable workforce in clean energy. They include a fully implemented, revised Australian Qualifications Framework; a better-connected tertiary education system; ongoing data collection and analysis of Australia's skill needs; a strengthened and extended apprenticeship system, including higher apprenticeships; broader work-based and work-integrated learning; improved levels of partnership between industry and the education and training sector; and increased access by industry to shorter programs at a range of skill levels to support reskilling/upskilling and to transition existing workers from emissions-intensive sectors quickly.
"The report covers these reforms through the opportunities offered for a tertiary skills, training and qualifications system that will keep pace with rapidly changing technologies and emerging occupations. It is now time to tackle these issues.
"With consistent messages emanating from the current Universities Accord, the imminent National Skills Agreement, and the White Paper on Jobs and Opportunities, there is the potential for clean energy workforce needs to be nurtured as a result of structural improvements across the whole knowledge and skills spectrum," Mr Willox said.
Tony Melville – 0419 190 347