Energy sector must be more proactive in solving skills shortage

The energy sector, particularly the coal-seam gas (CSG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry, should be more proactive and strategic in developing its future workforce, according to Energy Skills Queensland chief executive officer, Glenn Porter.

Mr Porter said that Energy Skills Queensland is encouraging the CSG/LNG industry to invest in the development of its own work force.

“We’re advocating that this industry and individual enterprises need to grow their own skills – rather than poaching skilled workers from other related industries,” he said.

“Unfortunately, the mining sector has done too much of this over the years, relying heavily on attracting skilled labour from other sectors, attracting them in with large remuneration packages rather than developing its own work force.”

Energy Skills Queensland will conduct a series of presentations and workshops designed to connect enterprises within the sector to potential workers during the Queensland Gas Conference and Exhibition, to be held in Brisbane from 16-17 August.

The conference will highlight available work and career opportunities in the state’s CSG to LNG industry.

“Queensland’s CSG to LNG sector is a multi-billion dollar industry, which currently has four major projects with the potential to offer 18,000 direct and indirect jobs over the next eight years,” Mr Porter said.

“If you look at the recent Federal Budget, you’ll see that the government has identified a skills shortage as the number one issue at the moment.

“If we don’t have the supply of skills we need, a lot of projects will have to be postponed and some may even be cancelled, potentially causing a huge economic loss to the Australian economy.”

According to Mr Porter, workforce development, which includes attracting, developing and retaining the workforce to initially build the required infrastructure and then to operate the plants and equipment in the longer term, is a major issue.

“Getting a positive message out there about this industry is critical,” he said.

“The industry needs to promote itself as a growth sector, requiring significant numbers of skilled workers, an industry with career paths and opportunities, so we attract a workforce that’s keen to move into a vibrant and growing industry,” he said.

Energy Skills Queensland recently launched a Careers in Energy website, designed to provide information about opportunities and occupations within the sector.

“It includes information on training and development – both through vocational education and higher educational studies – so it’s important for getting that information out there about the career opportunities,” Mr Porter said.