WA schools, TAFEs to teach automation skills

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WA schools, TAFEs to teach automation skills

Govt partners with Rio Tinto.

Western Australia is working to establish the nation's first accredited courses in automation in a bid to boost the state’s job prospects.

The project will build on a partnership between Rio Tinto and South Metropolitan TAFE announced in October last year. The miner will contribute $2 million to the project.

A WA vocational education and training (VET) alliance will be established to "inform curriculum development, education opportunities and strategies to build new skills and capabilities of the Western Australian workforce".

Industry input is being used to create a Certificate II course which will primarily be targeted at high school students.

Delivery of the program through TAFE and high schools is expected to start next year. The state will also develop a Certificate IV in automation.

WA education minister Sue Ellery said the program would help future-proof the state's workforce in the face of technological disruption. 

"This is a great example of industry working collaboratively with government to ensure our training sector creates a highly skilled workforce."

While mining operations are set to benefit from the increase in skilled technicians, the WA government says the nature of the program should make the skills transferable across industries. 

"Automation, technology and innovation will transform a range of industries and create new opportunities, and we need to be ahead of the curve to ensure our workforce can take advantage of that."

Rio Tinto's iron ore chief executive Chris Salisbury said the company was looking at adding data analytics and robotics to the WA curriculum.

The company recently warned of a looming shortfall in data scientists. Early last month it announced up to 200 truck driver jobs would be lost from its Pilbara operations due to a shift towards automation.

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