With the transition to renewable energy increasing, the Federal Government is committing $100 million to help support 10,000 urgently needed clean-energy apprenticeships and fill the skill shortage in the industry.
If Australia is to complete its future clean energy projects, and reach net-zero emissions by 2050, it will require an injection of qualified labour such as electricians, concreters, truck drivers and earth moving plant operators.
However, electrical apprenticeship completion rates are at an all-time low of 52%, which is too low for Australia to keep up with its climate commitments, says the Electrical Trades Union boss Michael Wright.
“Australia will need tens of thousands of skilled electrical workers to connect renewables like solar, wind and batteries to our electricity grid.” says Wright.
A survey of 642 electrical apprentices conducted by Essential Media for the union showed more than a third (37 per cent) were thinking about quitting and failing to complete their apprenticeships because they can’t afford to keep up with the cost of living on their wage.
Under the new funding plan announced by Minister for Skills and Training Brendan O’Connor, clean-energy apprentices will receive six-monthly payments of $2000 for the duration of their apprenticeship.
“Our workforce is not ready to move in the direction we need to unless we invest quickly into apprenticeships. We want to invest in productivity-enhancing areas. I believe skills invested in areas of demand will contribute to economic growth and modernise our workforce.” O’Connor says.
Last week in Canberra, the minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen hosted a jobs summit with industry leaders, unions and environmental and community groups to examine what was needed to upskill workers from old economy jobs into sustainable employment.
“There will be opportunities for workers in traditional industries such as oil and gas to use their skills in emerging industries,” Mr Bowen said.
“Australia is on a path to becoming a renewable energy superpower and with that comes the potential for high-skill, high-paying sustainable jobs in industries such as renewable manufacturing, green hydrogen, offshore wind and energy efficiency.” he said.
The findings from the jobs summit will be presented to Parliament at next month’s skills summit.