Call Us Now: +1 (669) 221-4085
Sparkies union would campaign for visa workers in jobs summit deal

Sparkies union would campaign for visa workers in jobs summit deal

He said one national employer had told him it needed 950 transmission workers in the next few years but there just 11 were in training.

“For as long as the onus is on individual employers to go through labour market testing, identify whether there’s a shortage or not and then try and bring people in it’s never going to be fixed,” Mr Wright said.

“By having an industry-led approach you can actually see what’s coming over the horizon with some greater degree of reliability and then put your training plans in place and have skilled migration to cover the shortages.”

Australia’s energy market operator estimates the sector needs 10,000 extra licensed electricians for large-scale renewable projects by 2027.

But industry groups believe the shortages could be as high as 80,000 over the decade depending on the need to install electric vehicle chargers and home batteries.

The ETU and employers, including Master Electricians Australia (MEA), National Electrical Contractors Association and Rewiring Australia, propose a high-profile campaign for temporary skilled visas “to provide a source of candidates over the short term”.

Their proposal includes a potential gap-year program to attract “highly mobile young workers in other countries” by allowing them to work through different states on a working holiday visa and then transfer into the main temporary skilled visa program.

Key to the “social acceptance” of these programs was local training, apprenticeship and employment programs, the paper said.

Lightning rod

MEA general manager of advocacy Jason O’Dwyer said temporary migration for the short term was crucial given how long it took to train apprentice electricians.

“It’s a four-year lag time, in that for the first two years they’re heavily trained and don’t have enough skills to pick up the workload.”

He said the joint paper marked a “once in a generation opportunity for us to set the industry standard – to achieve something that up to now has been unachievable”.

“There hasn’t been a lightning rod there for industry to start pulling together. But the [government’s] Powering Australia plan has given us the impetus to come together.”

Part of the joint paper included continuing pandemic-era wage subsidies of up to 50 per cent for apprentices, or else “we will see apprentices drop through the floor”.

“Small businesses are particularly very price-sensitive to apprentices as they’re not productive in doing a lot of electrical work,” Mr O’Dwyer said.

In particular, the paper argues the government’s mentorship program, the Australian Apprenticeship Support Network, which is contracted to nine providers, had failed to show a “meaningful increase” in apprentice completion.

The program cost $330 million last year and is budgeted at another $260 million this year.

Unions and employers argue that the previous industry-led program of mentoring was more effective and saw a 90 per cent retention rate.

Mr Wright said effective mentorship was critical to ensuring the completion of the electrical trade apprenticeship.

“For every taxpayer dollar spent on an apprentice who doesn’t complete is a dollar wasted,” he said.

Read More

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.