Australian workers could get skilled up

Australia’s unions are urging the country’s parliament to support government plans to match worker skills to jobs in new, green industries.

The draft National Green Skills Agreement announced by the government on 23 October was welcomed by national union federation ACTU. The agreement sets out to equip thousands of apprentices in emerging and existing industries with the skills to help tackle climate change. Under the plan, mandatory green skills would be included in all apprentice training from the end of 2010.
“The skills of our plumbers, construction workers, electricians and other specialist trades workers will be fundamental in ensuring that Australia is able to move quickly and flexibly in creating a sustainable, low carbon economy,” said ACTU president Sharan Burrow. “It is estimated that we are going to need to re-train and upskill about 3 million workers in the next 20 years to meet the challenge.”
She added that unions are already working hard to promote green skills. “The Plumbers’ Union (CEPU) in Victoria has already set up a “Plumbing Industry Climate Change Action Centre” which is aims to up-skill the state’s 21,000 plumbers and set up similar centres nationally,” she said, adding: “Water management is one area where we are creating new jobs and expertise and an area in which Australia can lead the world.”
Urging the Australian parliament to support the government plan, she said: “We urgently need national policies in place to drive investment and a fast but fair transition to a low carbon economy.”
She said action was needed because Australian was lagging behind when it came to claiming a slice of the global market in clean tech products, services, expertise and technology.

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