Rio Tinto partners with TAFE to deliver Australia’s first automation qualifications

04 April 2018

A collaboration between Rio Tinto, South Metropolitan TAFE and the Western Australian government is set to make history with new, high-tech courses in automation now one step closer.

These nationally-recognised qualifications, the first to provide pathways to emerging jobs in the area of automation, are expected to be available at Western Australian TAFE Colleges and to high schools from 2019.

The announcement, which reflects Western Australia’s leadership in automation technology, was made this morning at an unprecedented resource industry gathering held at SciTech in West Perth.

Rio Tinto Iron Ore chief executive Chris Salisbury and Education and Training Minister Sue Ellery invited industry guests to join a pioneering Vocational Education and Training (VET) collaboration to further develop training courses to meet the future needs of industry.

To kick-start the collaboration, Jim Walker has been appointed to chair the new alliance. Jim has more than 40 years of business experience including as the former National President of the Australian Institute of Management, a former CEO of WestTrac Group, and is currently chairman of the WA State Training Board.

In attendance were industry representatives from a number of leading resource companies including BHP, Woodside, Chevron, Alcoa, Fortescue Metals Group, Monadelphous, Komatsu, Roy Hill, Caterpillar and many others who all share a strong interest in strengthening STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) capabilities and educational pathways.

As part of its contribution to the training and education of Western Australians, Rio Tinto has previously committed up to $2 million to develop the new qualifications that will see Australia’s first certificate courses in automation available from next year.

Similar programmes will also be made available through VET pathways in Western Australian high schools. Together they will become Australia’s first nationally accredited courses in automation, building on critical digital skills requirements for the future.

Rio Tinto’s Chris Salisbury said "The purpose of the VET collaboration led by the State Government and Rio Tinto is to ensure Western Australia’s workforce has the skills that industry will need, for the jobs automation technology is creating. 

"This is not only about retraining existing workers to transition to new jobs, it is also about building on the skills of the people that power Western Australia’s diverse industries and developing talent pipelines to ensure the state’s workforce is prepared for the changes and opportunities that will emerge.

"Western Australia is a global leader in automation, with Rio Tinto leading the way with its adoption of autonomous trains, trucks and drills. These innovations position Western Australia to take full advantage of the many opportunities automation is expected to deliver to industry and the state’s economy.

"The courses will also be consistent with the priority the State Government is placing on STEM and will help build a much-needed bridge between STEM in education and STEM in the workplace.

"We’re looking forward to these courses being made available to Western Australians to acquire new skills, improve their capability and build confidence in working alongside technology."

Notes to editor

Full list of companies attending:

  • Alcoa
  • BHP
  • Caterpillar
  • Chevron
  • Citic Pacific Mining
  • CME
  • DTWD
  • Flux
  • FMG
  • Komatsu
  • LinkForce
  • Monadelphous
  • Quadrant
  • Rio Tinto
  • Roy Hill
  • Scitech
  • Sodexo
  • South32
  • Woodside
  • Workpac
  • Yara