National clean energy education hub to transform tomorrow’s tradies into green energy experts

Paul Eyers
By Paul Eyers
6 Min Read

Western Australia is set to become the production line for Australia’s next generation of forward-thinking tradies, thanks to the construction of a specialist clean energy training centre. 

The $70 million Clean Energy Skills National Centre of Excellence investment will equip energy, engineering and construction students with the future skills needed to support Australia’s net zero by 2050 carbon goals. 

The state-of-the-art facilities will operate across the WA TAFE network to provide innovative training in clean energy technologies such as solar, wind, hydrogen, batteries and grid integration.

The diversity of clean energy projects currently being developed across WA in solar, wind, hydrogen, and batteries will help pave the way for hands-on training and job availability for students and those looking to upskill ahead of the clean energy future. 

The clean energy skills training programs will be provided at Perth campuses and regional areas such as Kalgoorlie, Albany, Bunbury, Geraldton, Karratha, and Broome.

The Commonwealth Government will invest $32.75m, matched by the WA Government, to help break ground on the centre, providing some respite to the nation’s ongoing tradie shortage. 

“This $70m investment in a Clean Energy Skills National Centre of Excellence highlights the importance of developing and building clean energy skills for the net zero transition and a Future Made in Australia,” Minister for Skills and Training Brendan O’Connor said.

“This Centre of Excellence in WA will help develop high-quality, responsive skills training in the critical and rapidly evolving clean energy economy.”

WA Premier Roger Cook says the centre would help transform WA into a global clean energy powerhouse for decades.

“We have ambitious plans for clean energy in this State, a vision shared by the Federal Government, industry, and Western Australians,” he said.

“The transition will offer a range of exciting opportunities for Western Australians to pursue careers and take up quality jobs of the future.

“It is important that we are at the forefront of best practice in skilling and upskilling our workers for the clean energy jobs that will support the transition, with the world’s eyes looking to WA as our people and industries lead the charge towards a clean energy future.”

Providing the workforce for future energy projects

Minister for Training and Workforce Development Simone McGurk says the Centre for Excellence will provide Western Australia with the workers needed for the ongoing operation of clean energy projects both across the state and nationwide.

“In WA, clean energy projects will be located around the State and will require the capability and capacity of all our TAFEs to deliver contemporary training using world-class training facilities.

“WA will become the beating heart of Australia’s development of skills and workforces to enable the clean energy transition, and this will propel the State forward in meeting its target of net zero by 2050.”

The Centre for Excellence will have a particular focus on developing new-age skill sets within trades such as electrical, engineering, automotive mechanical, plumbing, air conditioning, refrigeration, metal fitting and machining, as well as provide high-level training and university degree equivalent pathways to help develop future clean energy experts.  

However, it won’t just be TAFE Western Australia tasked with training the tradies of tomorrow, with independent RTOs also set to play a significant role in delivering the green energy education rollout. 

“The Centre will be at the forefront of education and training in clean energy science, engineering, construction, and operation, supporting Australia’s transition to net zero and fostering a future made in Australia, so the involvement of independent RTOs is critical success in this area,” Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia (ITECA) Chief Executive Troy Williams said. 

“ITECA aims to ensure that this initiative expands access to clean energy skills training at both independent RTOs and TAFE campuses…this shouldn’t be a stretch as official data shows 81.4 per cent of the 78,575 rural, regional and remote students in skills training across Western Australia study with independent RTOs.”

Unions back need for clean energy education hub

The Electrical Trades Union described the development of a national Clean Energy Centre for Excellence as a green energy game-changer, which it predicts will become a crucial support pillar to building a net zero emissions future. 

“This investment in clean energy skills training is a crucial building block for our nation’s transition to a net zero emissions future,” ETU National Secretary Michael Wright said.  

“The Centre of Excellence will play a pivotal role in equipping the next generation of electricians and other skilled workers with the expertise needed to build and maintain the clean energy future.”

 Mr Wright says the world-class facilities will help the industry fill the 85,000 electrician shortfall by 2050 to meet growing demand.

ETU national secretary
ETU National Secretary Michael Wright says the centre will provide a production line of future electricians.

“The Centre of Excellence is an important step in addressing this critical skills shortage and ensuring that we have the workforce ready to power Australia’s clean energy transition,” he said.

“Together, we will build a skilled workforce that will drive Australia’s transition to a clean energy future and secure our nation’s economic prosperity for generations to come.”

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Paul Eyers has worked as a journalist for a range of media publishers including News Corp and Network Ten. He has also worked outside of Australia, including time spent with ABS-CBN in the Philippines. Stepping away from the media, Paul spent five years sharpening his tools in construction - building his skill set and expertise within the trade industry. His diverse experiences and unique journey have equipped him with an insider view of Australia’s construction game to dig deep into the big stories.