Airport construction provides skills for the future

The construction of Western Sydney Airport will provide the skills and training for local workers employed on the project.

A partnership between Western Sydney Airport and TAFE NSW has seen the establishment of a Skills Exchange on the construction site of the airport.

As half of the workers for the airport are locally-based, the Skills Exchange ensures that the knowledge invested in the project goes towards local communities, said Graham Millett, Western Sydney Airport Chief Executive.

“There are six years of complex construction before we can open the Airport and we’ll need a significant pool of skilled local workers,” said Millet.

“We want the entry level worker who starts on a shovel to build lifelong skills that set them up for work long after the airport is up and running.”

While the first batch of workers will primarily learn construction-related skills, such as earthmoving, civil construction, safety, and traffic control, as the project develops the skills shared and taught will expand. Beginning with earthworks for the preparation of the site, the program will evolve to include the construction of the 3.7 kilometre runway, taxiways, passenger terminal, and on-airport business park.

With the skills learnt in this project, workers can go on to provide the knowledge and expertise that related projects will require. Part of the contract to delivery Western Sydney Airport requires that 30 per cent of the workers during construction must come from Western Sydney, increasing to 50 percent during the operation of the Airport. Of this total workforce, 20 per cent must be apprentices and trainees.

Such a local workforce will also be required to execute the advanced manufacturing that will exist alongside the airport, with companies such as BAE Systems, 3D printing company GE Additive, and the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, part of the University of Sheffield.

Acting managing director of TAFE NSW, Kerry Penton, highlighted that the nature of the programs delivered through the construction of the airport will allow for a range of future projects.

“This is a responsive, flexible and innovative solution designed to meet the training needs of students, employers and industry.

“The Skills Exchange will significantly expand our capacity to skill the workforce needed to deliver one of the nation’s largest infrastructure projects.”