THE runaway success of an indigenous mining employment program has continued with a major national award and further federal funding.
Kempsey-based Pathways to the Pilbara has already trained and found jobs for 93 Aboriginal workers from the Macleay and Nambucca valleys.
A $400,000 grant, secured as part of Lyne federal MP Rob Oakeshott’s agreement to put Labor into government, will fund the program's extendsion into the Manning Valley.
The announcement follows Pathways to the Pilbara’s gong at the SkillsDMC awards ceremony, where it was recognised for its commitment to workforce planning and development, and leadership in skilling new entrants and existing workers in the metalliferous mining sector.
Program director Wendy Yarnold said it had been an honour to share the podium at the mining skills awards with industry heavyweights.
“(It was) such a great opportunity for Pathways to the Pilbara to promote our operations and create more opportunities for Aboriginal people to fly-in/fly-out to highly paid positions in the mining sector,” she said.
The program’s general manager Brad Carbutt summed up its role.
“We navigate the minefield to get the mining job,” he said.
“It takes a lot of entry-level criteria to get there.”
Ms Yarnold said the program’s success had been down to sincerity; focusing on getting jobs, not just delivering training; establishing relationships with clients and industry so the organisation could be trusted; and being flexible by adapting to the needs of clients and employers, rather than having rigid guidelines.
While the SkillsDMC award indicated Pathways to the Pilbara was on the right path, Mr Carbutt said, the real rewards were the securing of jobs and the sense of pride that resulted in workers.
An article in the Midcoast Observer about the first five program participants to get full-time mining jobs had spread through social networking websites across Australia and staff were even fielding calls from Aboriginal people in the Pilbara itself, Ms Yarnold said.
Mr Oakeshott gave his backing to the program.
“Pathways to the Pilbara … has a near-perfect retention rate and is likely to place another 100 people in high-paying mining jobs by the end of the year,” he said.
“It is expected that this program will now expand services into the Manning Valley.”
Ms Yarnold said there would be assessment sessions run in Taree for program applicants, an early stage of the process to securing mining jobs.