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Leading mining industry and sector representatives, equipment manufacturers, community representatives, as well as resource sector subject matter experts and representatives from across Queensland met in Mackay today to start work on new qualifications for the fourth industrial revolution.

Asset President BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA), James Palmer said the workshop was a valuable opportunity for the sector representatives to come together and start discussing the new approaches required to skill the resources industry for jobs of the future.

“The Queensland Future Skills partnership will define the first wave of new skills that may be required to support technology advances, and to establish the education opportunities for individuals to acquire these skills,’’ Mr Palmer said.

“This workshop is the first step in establishing the scope for opportunities for traineeships in autonomous operations, and expanding existing trade apprenticeships to include autonomous competencies as well as an entry pathway for autonomous mine controllers.

“We also hope to be able to deliver the first pilot of these programs in the Bowen Basin region near our operations, expanding opportunities for both existing and future workforces, as well as local schools.’’

Executive Director, Commercial, Robert Petherbridge said TAFE Queensland was excited to be working with employers like BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA), because the resources sector is at the cutting edge of technology and it works in a range of regional, rural and metropolitan communities across Queensland.

“Industry 4.0 is here; technology like autonomous vehicles in resources is driving the way.

“What we know is that change is inevitable and there are and will continue to be impacts on our workforce.

“Our role is supporting business to ensure fast pace of adoption, to ensure they thrive — keeping pace is key. Organisations that are slow to adopt technology and subsequent training will stagnate.

“It’s anticipated that 25 to 46 per cent of Australia’s work activity is going to be automated by 2030.

“The future and security of regional jobs relies on our ability to align Queensland’s workforce with changes in technology, now and into the future.

“What became clear from today’s workshop is that we need to focus our efforts on developing training around three areas: technical — skills to build, fix and repair the technology; technological — how to use the tech; and enterprise skills — how to manage and communicate changes in technology.

“There’s a level of hyperbole around the lack of knowledge around technologies like automation, augmented reality and robotics. But the chances are many people are already using elements of these technologies in their daily lives. Our training products will provide context for the workplace and build on these skills.

While the scope of training to be delivered through the partnership is still being finalised, TAFE Queensland and CQUniversity say products may include traineeship and higher level qualifications, and micro-credentials.

CQUniversity Pro Vice-Chancellor of Vocational Education and Training (VET) Peter Heilbuth said the University had always been focused on delivering the skills and knowledge that the communities and industries within our regions needed.

“CQUniversity currently works closely with companies like BMA to provide localised and industry-relevant training. This project is a natural extension of these partnerships in that industry’s training needs are constantly evolving, and we as training providers need to adapt our training, proactively, to meet the changing content demand.

“CQUniversity is 100 per cent committed to identifying opportunities that will grow our regions and drive innovation and best practice, and today’s workshop has allowed us to walk away with ideas to design and deliver courses based on unique industry demand that are needed now and in the future,” Mr Heilbuth said.

“Our industries and regions are moving forward and adopting innovation and technology at a rapid pace. By embracing these advances, we will have the ability to create jobs and realise new competencies and specialisations.”

The Queensland Future Skills Partnership was launched last month, and is led by BHP Mitsubishi Alliance, with TAFE Queensland and CQUniversity.

A steering committee will be appointed to drive industry consultation and collaboration throughout the project.