The Importance of Post Trade Training to the NT

Through detailed engagement with NT Industry, ISACNT has identified that post trade training gaps represent a real challenge for businesses as they manage their workforce. Post trade training provides qualified trades persons with ongoing training opportunities to gain additional trade licences or specialise in a targeted area of interest. Current Industry needs point to an ever increasing demand for higher-level trade skills. A complex environment has evolved relating to NT workforce development and up-skilling that places doubt on exactly who is responsible for initiating and supporting post trade training.

Meeting supply and demand to address industry skill needs can be a challenging task and raises several key questions. Is it Industry itself that creates demand for post trade training? Is it the NT Government’s responsibility to direct post trade training demand? Should NT Training Providers create post trade or up-skilling options so businesses will actively support post trade training opportunities? Or is it the individual tradesperson who should accept responsibility for continued development of their occupational skills?

In truth, there is no easy answer to these highly complex and important questions. In one way or another, all parties are involved in some manner in this process.

Defining industry capability, workforce skilling capacity and the commercial condition of the business all play a major role in addressing these questions. In the NT, many businesses are considered relatively small. Workforce diversification is often limited with occupations being blended together with one or two workers covering multiple job roles. Releasing workers for further training is often problematic.

Due to the transient nature of the NT workforce, challenges around workers holding appropriate qualifications often arise. In some cases, one worker carries the qualifications and other workers in the business frequently then undertake a secondary support role acting as a trades support or assistant. The work gets done, but there is minimal improvement in overall workforce development within the business, as workers have limited opportunity to improve their qualifications.

Structuring and undertaking real workforce development skilling initiatives remain as a critical strategy for businesses to sustain. Demand for effective and realistic post trade training opportunities for workers within a business has to be balanced against the cost and associated risks of a transitory workforce in the NT. Many business owners report they are just not willing to take the risk to provide up-skilling or post trade training. Though understandable from a business perspective, the pressures being exerted on NT businesses to improve workforce skilling levels continue to increase markedly.

Australian Department of Employment Projections 2016 reports that Skills Level 1 and Skill Level 2 occupations will experience growth demand of more than 13% (Level 1) and 11.0 % (Level 2) by 2020 against current employment levels. These occupation skill level demands will also be experienced in the NT as new technologies impact industries, major projects complete commissioning, and industry sectors increase service complexity in an ever-broadening marketplace. 

The demand to improve NT post trade workforce skilling presents a major challenge. Understandably, developing and supporting post trade training and up-skilling is now a major game changer. To address this challenge, Industry has a responsibility to identify demand. Co-contribution post trade training availability needs to be committed, and workers should be encouraged and incentivised to embark on the important journey of improving their qualifications and workforce relevance to meet the demands of an evolving, technology focused NT. Without such strategic action it is acknowledged that advanced skills gaps in the NT workforce will broaden, thus placing increased commercial risk on local businesses or alternatively, encouraging the potential use of non-NT resident workforce options.

ISACNT invites businesses or individual workers to make contact with us to discuss post trade training opportunities in the NT.