It is a ‘chasing game’ according to Gunlake Quarry community and stakeholder engagement manager Geoff Kettle, who has identified a shortage in apprentices and workers for the extractive industries for the district.
Companies have found it challenging to employ qualified fitters and turners, boilers and diesel mechanics he says, with many asking why?
Mr Kettle, who will reach out to TAFE NSW in Goulburn, is drafting strategies to fix this problem and foster greater involvement in the trade, along with the help of Divall’s Earthmoving, Goulburn Mulwaree Council and Gunlake Quarry.
“It’s apprentices we need to grow our own trades,” he said.
“I know the council has an extractive industries working group, which I have become involved in as we try to identity how we fix this problem.
I don’t necessarily think council has a role to play but it’s good they are taking a leadership role in it. This is not just good for Goulburn but for the whole LGA.”
The former mayor cites a focus on university as the more accepted career path these days. He said the quarry, which is currently looking for up to six tradesmen just “can’t get them”.
“I don’t think it’s unique to Goulburn, this is happening all over Australia. Now it’s seen as good to go to university and the trades are a bit shunned,” he said.
“Given this area supplies the majority of the quarrying products such as hard rocks and limestone going into the Sydney building market and Marulan has a 100 plus years of the resource – we need to get more trades people.”
Director of Divall’s Earthmoving Andy Divall recently led information sessions for both Mulwaree and Goulburn High School students in an attempt to raise awareness of alternate trades pathways.
Earlier this year, Mr Divall approached the Goulburn Chamber of Commerce about spreading the message as well.
“There doesn’t seem to be an interest like there used to be, but there are job opportunities available in an industry such as ours. The way to attract more young people is by all banding together,” Divall’s spokesperson Kristopher Brunton said.
NSW Real Estate Training College CEO Murray Macdonald said students were going straight to university because they did not know what to do, or worse, they wanted to make their statistics look better.
“Parents also push their kids into university degrees thinking this is the best course of action for their kids because they either didn’t get the opportunity to get a degree themselves or they think that they ‘will find their way’ once at university,” he said.
“I advise young people and parents to look at all options including real estate and other trades. By spending time in the workforce you can start to work out where your strengths and interests are.”
Divall’s will hold further information sessions.