Oil and gas training centre to combat looming skills shortage

GE Oil & Gas recently opened its $100 million technology and learning complex in Jandakot, Western Australia. The biggest complex of its kind in Australia, the scope of the project grew from $80 million to $100 million in response to feedback and demand from the state oil and gas industry. GE Oil & Gas expects to deliver 4000 training days in 2012 and has begun to service its major equipment in country.

This will be the first GE facility to offer the full range of technical training required to meet both the demands of the resources boom in Australia and the need to increase productivity in the sectors facing this rising demand.

The service centre will be supporting, among others, key equipment employed in liquefied natural gas (LNG) trains that compress and refrigerate natural gas transforming it into liquid so that it can be transported.

GE’s Jandakot center will provide in-country maintenance, reducing downtime while parts are serviced overseas and creating a secondary service industry in the region.

GE Australia and New Zealand CEO and president Steve Sargent said global energy demand is expected to grow 35 per cent over the next 25 years and by 2020 Australia will be the biggest exporter of LNG in the world.

“Ensuring that Australia benefits fully from this boom requires us to develop skills and technical capabilities in country. This investment ensures that we are not only able to support our customers more effectively but we also support Australia’s long-term benefits,” Mr Sargent said.

Chevron Australia, which operates the Gorgon and Wheatstone projects, is one of the key energy companies set to train hundreds of its Perth engineering and technical staff at the GE facility.

“Chevron had so far invested $12 million on recruiting and training 40 apprentices and trainees in preparation for when the Gorgon LNG and domestic gas plant became operational,” said Chevron Australia managing director Roy Krzywosinski.

“Chevron also employs 120 university graduates across a range of oil and gas related fields. These are young people who are getting valuable experience on the front line and will be the leaders of the future.”

Skills shortages are set to be one of the main inhibiters to economic growth in the resources sector. The latest Clarius Skills Index, which measures the supply and demand for skilled labor across 20 job categories, recently found that engineering firms are among those expected to be hardest hit by a looming skills shortage in the Australian workforce over the next decade.

As part of the skills delivery, GE Oil & Gas has partnered with Chevron, Woodside, ConocoPhilips, Manufacturing Skills Australia, Navitas, Australian Centre for Energy and Process Training and Apprenticeships Australia to create a Community of Technical Best Practice. This initiative has received funding and support from the Australian Federal Government in recognition of the impact it will have on the skills shortage in the booming resources market. The Federal Government and the Critical Skills Investment Fund have invested $2.67 million towards the training centre to build the community of technical best practice.