Western Sydney Airport driving local skills and training boom

Posted: 1 February 2022 | | No comments yet

As one of Australia’s largest infrastructure projects, the construction of Sydney’s new airport continues to drive major upskilling and training opportunities for Western Sydney locals.

The construction of Sydney’s new airport is creating training and upskilling opportunities for Western Sydney locals with one-third of the workforce learning new skills on one of Australia’s largest infrastructure projects.

Western Sydney Airport (WSA) Chief Executive Officer, Simon Hickey, said ‘learning’ workers currently account for 30 per cent of the workforce, exceeding the project’s target of 20 per cent.

Learning workers include trainees, graduates, apprentices, and workers training to upgrade their qualifications and skills.

“We are focused on setting our workforce up for success, wherever their careers may take them after Western Sydney Airport, which is why we are passionate about upskilling and providing on-the-job training,” commented Hickey.

“Our commitment to the region goes further than job creation. We want to ensure Western Sydney International drives generational change by boosting local skills development beyond airport construction and for decades to come.

“Western Sydney Airport is about more than building an airport – it’s about empowering our community to take advantage of the new era of jobs and opportunities the airport will deliver to their doorstep.”

WSA offers several initiatives to provide on-the-job training for locals including traineeships for high school graduates and opportunities for university graduates to kickstart their careers as well as pre-employment programmes with TAFE and CSIRO to inspire Western Sydney high school students to take up careers in aviation and STEM.

Quakers Hill local Samantha Salkeld went straight from high school to designing an international airport, joining the airport’s design team under WSA’s trainee programme, undertaking full-time work while also achieving a TAFE qualification.

“This is my first job out of high school and I get the opportunity to help design an international airport, using design to show the world what Western Sydney is all about,” said Salkeld.

“It’s an incredible career opportunity and it’ll be amazing come 2026 when the airport opens to say ‘I helped build that’.”

North Parramatta local Alieu Turay is also learning on the job, joining WSA’s major earthworks team in 2020 when he was new to the Australian construction industry, having arrived in Australia as a refugee from Sierra Leone.

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Through training programmes offered by WSA’s major earthworks contractor CPB Contractors and ACCIONA joint venture, Turay has worked his way from a labourer to driving a roller and is now operating a CAT651 Scraper, one of the largest earthmoving machines on site, as well as completing a Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety.

Turay added: “As a beneficiary of the opportunities this project is creating for the Western Sydney community, I am proud to be working on one of the biggest earthmoving projects Australia has ever seen and grateful that such an opportunity is right on my doorstep.

“I’m learning skills and gaining qualifications on this project that will open up new career pathways for me in the future.”

Hickey further commented that the airport would create further training opportunities as terminal construction ramps up and once runway construction commences later this year (2022).

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