Monday, 08 February 2016 13:53

Western Sydney future bright for skilled hands

Students waiting at train station. Students waiting at train station.

Media release, 8 February 2016

The job market is ripe for skilled hands with Western Sydney’s infrastructure boom set to increase demand for trades over the coming decades. 

President of the Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC), Cllr Tony Hadchiti, said “There is already a skills shortage for many key trades, partly because of the rapidly growing demand from construction, but also due to an increased focus on the importance of university-level education and a high dropout rate for new apprentices (around 47 per cent).”

“This skills shortage is set to worsen as Western Sydney’s thriving growth centres and a virtual catalogue of infrastructure projects creates a flood of work over the coming decades,” said Cllr Hadchiti.

“The problem is multi-faceted. Firstly, if we are to increase the number of local tradespeople, we need to look at how vocational education is valued, so that more young people consider taking up a trade or traineeship,” he said.

“Too many of our youth believe that future opportunities can only come via a university education, which is simply not true,” said Cllr Hadchiti.

“Just because a young person is capable of completing a university degree doesn’t necessarily mean that it is the best option for them or the community for that matter – this kind of thinking has resulted in far too many degree-qualified baristas in Sydney,” he said.

“Those with a penchant for hands-on work, natural problem solvers and creative thinkers should consider a trade and gain the city-building skills that Western Sydney needs,” said Cllr Hadchiti.

“The reality is that many successful tradespeople earn just as much as degree-qualified professionals, often more, and those with an aptitude for skilled craftsmanship will find an eager job market awaiting them,” he said.

“Tradespeople are the small business owners that keep our economy turning and our cities growing. If we can’t encourage more young people into these careers, employers in the public and private sector will increasingly have to source workers from interstate or overseas,” said Cllr Hadchiti.

WSROC is collaborating with NSW Minister for Skills and Small Business, The Hon. John Barilaro to look at how we can address skills shortages in Western Sydney, especially those in high demand within local government. This will include looking at education and training pathways from high school into vocational education and trade skills development.

“First and foremost we need to have a change in thinking; to reassess the value we place on apprenticeships and traineeships,” said Cllr Hadchiti.

“Secondly, we need to strengthen the pathways from our high schools into vocational training so that the process is affordable, and as straightforward as possible for young people to navigate.

“Looking at more purpose-directed education rather than education for education’s-sake will encourage school students to think more critically about where they are headed once they graduate,” he said.

“Thirdly, we need to reduce the number of apprenticeship dropouts by ensuring young people have the financial and pastoral support they need whilst in training,” said Cllr Hadchiti.

“Over the next few weeks, many school graduates will have their first taste of a trade and will consider whether it is the right choice is for them.”

“These graduates need as much support as possible to ensure they go on to become qualified tradespeople. To ensure that if they leave their apprenticeship it is on their own terms, and not because of financial pressures or family stress,” he said.

“These are just some of the issues that will need to be addressed if we are to tackle the current skills shortage in Sydney. If we do not, then who will build our future city?”

[ENDS]

 

Media contact: Kelly-Anne Gee, 02 9671 4333 (ext. 118), 0425 871 868 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.   

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