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Submission to the Inquiry on the Perceptions and Status of VET training

Australia’s mining sector and the Minerals Council of Australia place a priority on our people and investing in skills and knowledge to provide opportunities in the workforce of the future.

With global demand for energy and infrastructure rising to meet an ever-growing world population, society is consuming more minerals and metals than ever before. The Australian mining industry is rapidly undergoing a digital transformation that is upskilling existing occupations and creating new ones. Success relies on access to an increasingly higher-skilled workforce.

Quality and responsive training and workforce development are crucial to ensure a supply of skilled workers enter and remain in the industry. Vocational (VET) provides a stable source of talent for the mining industry through apprentices and trainees, who currently make up 4.7 per cent of the workforce. It also provides opportunities for existing workers to upskill, re-skill, cross-skill and supports transitions from adjacent industries.

Over the last 10 years, the mining industry has been one of the strongest users of the VET system to skill and train its workforce. With an average of 60 per cent of employers using the system to meet their workforce needs, the industry was among the top five users nationally.

During the same period, an average of 46.8 per cent of mining employers had jobs requiring vocational qualifications, higher than the all-industry average of 36.3 per cent. Mining was the second greatest user of nationally recognised training, after construction (48.5 per cent).

There is a clear opportunity to increase the uptake of VET pathways for learners and employers through targeted actions aligned to the terms of reference of this inquiry.


1. That the workforce analysis and planning functions of Jobs and Skills Australia are activated to develop a comprehensive workforce plan that:

  • Captures skills in immediate and growing demand, and where job opportunities lie (inclusive of existing and emerging sectors)
  • Enables career pathways platforms to connect into and/or draw on, to promote national consistency.

2. That government, industry and training providers work together to provide key influencers-parents, teachers and friends with the relevant information, resources and tools to confidently support students’ decision-making about career pathways.

3. That government, industry and training providers deliver collaborative campaigns to improve perceptions of the VET sector through increased awareness and understanding of VET offerings and establishing a stronger narrative on the value of VET as an equally valid tertiary pathway

4. That government policy and funding frameworks support the VET sector to deliver a mix of modern, accessible skills pathways, developed in collaboration with industry:

  • Including accelerated apprenticeships, micro-credentials and bridging/stackable, short-burst courses (for upskilling, re-skilling or skills top-up)
  • Using best practice models with demonstrated success, such as BHPs FutureFit Academy, Rio Tinto’s partnership with South Metropolitan TAFE, Western Australia, and Queensland’s Future Skills partnership.

Read the full submission: MCA Submission – Inquiry into the perceptions and status of VET – 15 March 2023