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Economic opportunity through education and training

21 January 2019

Linda O’Farrell, GM Fortescue People, shares her thoughts on the importance of training the next generation of the mining workforce

At Fortescue, we are committed to ensuring communities benefit from the growth and development of our business and we believe in the power of creating economic opportunity through education and training. This ethos guides our approach to training whether that be through our Vocational and Employment Training Centre for Aboriginal Australians, our award winning Fortescue Trade Up initiative or our Apprenticeship Program. The Apprenticeship Program has been running for over seven years and covers a range of trades to support the business, including electricians, heavy vehicle mechanics, fixed plant mechanics, fabricators and light vehicle mechanics. 

During FY18, 28 apprentices from our Apprenticeship Program successfully gained permanent employment with Fortescue, representing the largest cohort of apprentices to graduate to date.

Our apprenticeship success rate is significant comparative to anywhere across Australia, based on data from the National Centre for Vocational Education Research. Fortescue’s Apprenticeship Program has a 98 per cent completion rate, compared to the national average of 63 per cent and 52 per cent in Western Australia. We are particularly proud that 79 per cent of our apprentices are Aboriginal Australians, compared to 3.5 per cent Australian wide.

In FY18, we celebrated the tenth anniversary of graduations from Fortescue’s pioneering Vocational Training and Employment Centre (VTEC) Program. Since the initiative began, 797 Aboriginal people have begun employment with Fortescue, while a further 849 Aboriginal people have received driver education and health and literacy support services from VTEC. The Federal Government adopted Fortescue’s VTEC model in 2014 and established 29 VTECs across Australia.

In Port Hedland, Fortescue provides operational funding to the Hedland Senior High School Trade Training Centre, which provides students with a pathway to employment in the mining industry and other industries requiring trade qualified students.

More recently, we were delighted to build on our support of the Trade Training Centre and provide apprenticeships to five Hedland Senior High School Students. The new initiative gives students the opportunity to begin an apprenticeship while completing high school.

Fortescue is proud to contribute to the local community by ensuring the next generation of talented professionals have meaningful employment opportunities here in the Pilbara.