Trainees start on major infrastructure projects across the country in 2021

Images from METRONET video on their trainees and apprentices. Left – Elly Harrington, right – Elly Thompson.

In December 2020 Victoria’s Big Build announced it would be the training ground for the next generation of skilled workers with a $33.2 million state government investment to boost apprenticeships and trainees.

As part of the Victorian 2020/21 budget this program will create 1,500 new opportunities for apprentices and trainees each year, over four years.

TAFEs will link students with real life training on Victoria’s major projects. School leavers and young people, currently undertaking or looking to begin an apprenticeship or traineeship are encouraged to apply.

Places will be created on the North East Link, New Footscray Hospital and the new Warrnambool Learning and Library Hub, with more to come later.

Minister for Training and Skills Gayle Tierney  visited the newly operational Victorian Tunnelling Centre (VTC) to launch Big Build Apprenticeships.

VTC welcomed the first intake of workers training for projects such as the Metro Tunnel – it was built as part of the Metro Tunnel Project’s contract with Cross Yarra Partnership.

The centre will create a skilled workforce for Victoria’s Big Build projects by training about 5,000 workers a year in underground construction and maintenance, which includes tunnel boring machine operation.

“Getting apprentices on our major projects is about making sure no one gets left behind because of the pandemic and helping them get the skills they need now and in the future,” Tierney said.

“This investment is about getting apprentices the skills they need to help the economy bounce back.”

In Western Australia, the ‘Infrastructure Ready’ program by the state government began in October 2020 and there are now 27 trainees working on the Yanchep Rail Extension and Thornlie-Cockburn Link.

More trainees are expected to begin working on these projects throughout 2021.

One trainee, Elly Thompson is working on the Yanchep Rail Extension. She was previously a sound engineer working in Melbourne before COVID-19 affected her industry and she moved to Perth.

“I looked into the future of civil construction in WA and saw there was a lot of jobs going on, so I applied for the course and I got in. It’s been fantastic,” she said.

Elly Harrington is another trainee on the Thornlie-Cockburn link and has several years’ experience in the construction industry. She recently took the next step, enrolling in a Certificate ll Rail Infrastructure traineeship.

Fellow trainee Cass Walding is also up-skilling on the project. She has taken on the role of an Administration Trainee as part of the Alliance’s Aboriginal Participation Program.

Of Yamatji heritage on her father’s side of the family, Cass recently completed her Certificate IV in Business. She works with the Alliance’s Human Resources training section, and has her sights set on a managerial role.

Walding says she sees herself as a role model for Aboriginal people and particularly women.

“I have a steady job, a good education and I’m living independently and financially supporting myself. I think that what I’ve achieved serves as solid example to other Aboriginal people and I would like to inspire and support others to do well,” she said.

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