Inquiry into Industry Skills Councils

Minerals Council Of Australia, Queensland Resources Council and South Australian Chamber Of Mines & Energy Submission to the Senate Education, Employment & Workplace Relations Committee on the inquiry into Industry Skills Councils.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
The Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) together with the Queensland Resources Council (QRC) and South Australian Chamber of Mines & Energy (SACOME) welcome the opportunity to respond to the Senate Education, Employment and Workplace Relations Committee Inquiry into Industry Skills Councils 2010.

The MCA represents Australia’s exploration, mining and minerals processing industry, nationally and internationally and through its Northern Territory and Victorian Divisions represents the interests of members operating in those jurisdictions.

The Queensland Resources Council (QRC) is a not-for-profit peak industry association representing Queensland’s minerals and energy sector, and works to secure an environment conducive to the long term sustainability of the minerals and energy sector in Queensland.

The South Australian Chamber of Mines and Energy (SACOME) is the peak industry association for all companies with business interests in the resources industry in South Australia.

ISCs have a unique role in the education and training system that is of considerable value to the industries they represent. SkillsDMC, the ISC for the minerals industry is strongly supported by MCA, QRC, SACOME and the broader minerals industry.

As the global demand for minerals commodities strengthens and the Australian economy emerges from the GFC, the minerals industry is once more facing the prospect of skilled labour capacity constraints to growth. SkillsDMC has a critical role in many of the strategies and initiatives required to build the pool of skilled labour available to enable the industry to meet that challenge.

Whilst SkillsDMC is currently highly effective in meeting the needs of the minerals industry, there are areas where its role could expand to the value of all stakeholders. It is therefore essential that SkillsDMC is funded at a level commensurate with the needs of industry and the national economy.

Governance and accountabilities for ISCs are well served under the current model of incorporated companies coupled with oversight of contractual requirements with Government. Any move to bureaucratise ISCs would be detrimental to their effectiveness in operating with industry.

Priorities for funding of ISCs should be based on demand driven, evidence based information and take account of a number of factors, including national economic priorities and the costs involved for specific industries rather than factors such as workforce numbers and the number of training packages under their area of responsibility.MCA, QRC and SACOME collectively have made a number of recommendations. The specific recommendations are that:

  • Government consider enhancing the role of ISCs, including in regard to interaction with Government agencies and regulators; advising on quality standards within the VET system; engagement with ACARA; and allocation of Commonwealth funding for skills initiatives linked to real jobs.
  • funding for ISCs be reviewed to ensure that it is commensurate with the contribution of the industry sector to the economy, the technological developments of the target industry and the costs of operation in the specific industry sectors rather than simply comparative workforce numbers or number of training packages under its responsibility. In the case of SkillsDMC this would take account of the higher cost of working with an industry operating in remote and regional locations using ever more highly technical equipment.
  • ISCs continue to operate as companies under national corporations law.
  • a model and resources for cross-sector (across ISCs) engagement in the training packages and training and assessment materials be developed to enable the broadening of industry sector involvement in setting the training agenda.
  • leading practice and innovation in high performing ISCs be disseminated among all ISCs.
  • highly performing ISCs be recognised in the form of enhanced scope and authority, whilst maintaining accountability for public funds.
  • Government policy and VET sector standards take into account the varying needs of different industry sectors and have the flexibility to meet the needs of all industry sectors and related ISCs.

 

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