Rio Tinto welcomes first nationally recognised qualifications in automation

12 June 2019

Rio Tinto today welcomed the introduction of Australia’s first nationally recognised qualifications in automation, providing workers in the resources sector and others looking to join it, with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in an increasingly STEM-based industry.

The new certificate courses, the first to provide education pathways to jobs in the area of autonomous operations, are the result of an historic collaboration between Western Australia’s resources sector including Rio Tinto, South Metropolitan TAFE and the Western Australian Government.

The courses have been developed over the last year and are now accredited by the Training Accreditation Council (WA).

A Certificate II in Autonomous Workplace Operations will be introduced to TAFE curriculum and piloted by a group of Rio Tinto’s iron ore workforce from August. It will also be piloted for Year 11 and 12 students in selected high schools across the state. A Working Effectively in an Automated Workplace micro-credential course for trade-qualified, apprentices and technicians will also be available.

Rio Tinto is contributing up to A$2 million to the development of the new qualifications with a Certificate IV in Remote Centre Operations also in development.

Today Rio Tinto Iron Ore chief executive Chris Salisbury joined West Australian Premier Mark McGowan, Education and Training Minister Sue Ellery and representatives from WA’s resources industry to launch the new certificate courses.

Commenting on the announcement, Mr Salisbury said: "In conjunction with South Metropolitan TAFE, WA Government and our industry partners, we are proud to have helped develop the first nationally recognised certifications in automation.

"Australia’s workforce is in the midst of an important shift, as innovation and technology create new business models across all industries. Mining has moved to become a genuine leader in innovative technology and we recognise the critical need to provide effective education programmes and opportunities to help our people succeed in this new era.    

"We believe these courses will make a long-lasting and positive difference to the lives of many Australians. It will help ensure our industry remains globally competitive and is a leader in innovative technology."

WA Premier Mark McGowan said: "This is a great example of industry working in partnership with government to ensure our training sector creates a highly skilled workforce.

"These new courses will allow us to maintain our competitive advantage as a leader in automation technology in Australia and ensure local people have the skills for the new jobs that are being created through technological innovation.

"They will also ensure the diversification of our economy and help Western Australians assist the mining industry well into the future."

Notes for editors

Chaired by Mr Jim Walker, the VET Collaboration partners include Rio Tinto, South Metropolitan TAFE, BHP, Roy Hill, FMG, Santos, Komatsu, South 32, Yara, Department of Training and Education, Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science & Innovation, University of Western Australia, Scitech, Chamber of Minerals and Energy. 

It is anticipated from second semester 2019 pilot programmes in each of these qualifications will be run by South Metropolitan TAFE for groups of up to 30 nominated Rio Tinto employees. The Certificate II in Autonomous Workplace Operations will be delivered as a pilot to 30 secondary school students from Cecil Andrews, Gilmore College, Baldivis College and delivered by North Regional TAFE at Karratha College.