ETU endorses investment in clean energy workforce

The Albanese Government’s 24-25 Budget turns the page on more than a decade of Liberal Party neglect and negligence, through its commitment to train the electrical workforce the nation so desperately needs, according to the Electrical Trades Union.

The Albanese Government has announced a $91.0 million investment over five years in the Budget to help skill the new energy workforce for the transition to Net Zero. 

This funding includes a $50 million capital and equipment investment fund for facility upgrades to expand clean energy training capacity across wind, solar, pumped hydro, grid battery storage, electricity networks, and hydrogen, as well as key electrical and construction trades.

“For too long, Australia’s electrical workforce has been neglected, leaving us ill-prepared for the energy transition,” said ETU National Secretary, Michael Wright. “The Albanese Government’s significant investment in training and upskilling our electrical workers provides new and better career paths for thousands of Australians who want to participate in the most important nation building project of our generation, the shift to abundant, affordable and renewable energy. Going forward we need to convert this into a long term commitment to training and paying the workers we need to be a renewables superpower. This focus on vocational education is why it’s so important for Skills to be in Cabinet.” 

According to Jobs and Skills Australia, the nation needs an additional 32,000 electricians by 2030, and another 85,000 by 2050.

The Budget commitment also includes $30 million to turbocharge the clean energy teacher, trainer, and assessor workforce, as well as support for small and medium businesses taking on clean energy, construction, and manufacturing apprentices through access to group training organisation services, with up to $1,500 in annual reimbursements over the life of an apprenticeship.

The ETU also endorses the government’s decision to adjust the eligibility settings of the New Energy Apprenticeships Program, enabling even more apprentices to enter in-training positions that support the transition to net zero and prepare them for the jobs of the future.

In addition to the $91.0 million invested in the new energy workforce, the government is also establishing a National Hydrogen Technology Skills Training Centre. In partnership with the Victorian Government, $10.0 million will be invested in 2025-26 to promote hydrogen workforce development and support the skilled workforce needs of the growing domestic hydrogen industry.

“There is no transition without the workforce to deliver it and it is a deep relief to see the Albanese Government recognize this critical fact,” Wright said. “This investment will not only help us meet our net zero targets but also create thousands of new jobs and opportunities for Australians in the clean energy sector.”

ETU apprentice of the year Zahn Anthony, was part of a delegation in March 2023 of ETU apprentices lobbying the Government for more targeted investment in apprenticeships. “One year ago I was here talking to politicians about what we need. Tonight’s Budget shows they are finally starting to listen.”

This article was publised on 16 May 2024.