A new Inland Rail Skills Academy will aim to forge partnerships between organisations to create education, training, skills development and employment opportunities to support the massive project.
The initiative, announced on August 22 by the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC), is aimed at creating opportunities for communities along the alignment of the route, which will link Brisbane and Melbourne via regional Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria.
“The Inland Rail Skills Academy will focus on building the skills needed for the next generation of rail workers, many of which will be based in regional communities ensuring the operation and maintenance of our new networks as they come online,” Inland Rail chief executive officer Richard Wankmuller said.
The aim of the academy will be to partner with other expert organisations to deliver 20 undergraduate scholarships for courses at the University of Southern Queensland, Charles Sturt University and La Trobe University, and Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) education programs in primary and secondary schools.
It also aims to develop rail employee capability, upgrading ARTC employees’ skills and qualifications to deliver Inland Rail.
ARTC has signed a Memorandum of Understanding to work with the Australasian Railway Association (ARA), combining their expertise to address skilled labour shortages in rail construction.
This follows the ARA releasing a report at the end of 2018 detailing a forecast shortfall in rail skills of more than 70,000 workers throughout the rail construction boom.
Under the MoU, the ARTC and ARA agreed to develop programs that offer apprenticeships and traineeships in rail related disciplines in regions along the alignment. Another objective is to build the capacity of small to medium enterprises in regional communities to participate in the Inland Rail supply chain.
“ARA welcomes ARTC’s commitment to create education, training, skills development and employment opportunities to support the Inland Rail project and we look forward to working to ensure the Academy is developing real training opportunities for skilled labour in rail construction, operations and maintenance,” ARA chief executive Danny Broad said.
“We are seeing a renaissance in new rail in Australia, with an estimated $150 billion invested by governments in new freight and passenger projects all around Australia.”