Hundreds of Sydney residents who have been struggling to find work will be given an opportunity to learn new skills and gain formal qualifications as part of the WestConnex road project.
The infrastructure boom is about much more than new roads, rail lines, hospitals and schools. The number of building projects getting underway across the state has presented us with a once-in-a-generation opportunity to help people finding it difficult to find work to learn a new skill or retrain. We are making sure there are opportunities for highly-skilled workers to deliver the world-class infrastructure, but are also creating opportunities available to people who are wanting to find work but don’t have the skills or experience.
I visited the Homebush Bay site of WestConnex with the Roads Minister Duncan Gay and the Federal Minister for Urban Infrastructure Paul Fletcher to inspect the newly-opened training academy. The purpose built WestConnex training academy will look after workers who will be learning on the job, providing training to more than 1500 workers, including 400 apprentices and trainees. It was good to meet with some of the new recruits who will receive their training during construction of the project in partnership with education providers such as TAFE NSW.
WestConnex will target residents who are long-term unemployed, Indigenous, or have been retrenched from other industries and give them the opportunity to become apprentices and trainees on the project. Initiatives like this will provide a fresh start for so many people, giving them an opportunity to secure a job and learn new qualifications while helping deliver projects of long-term benefit to our state.
This will be the third project to be included in the NSW Government’s Infrastructure Skills Legacy Program, which sets firm employment and training targets for major projects.
In other news, it was great to kick off Diwali celebrations with my friends in the Indian community when we turned the Opera House a bright, vibrant gold for the third year running. The photos have made their way around the world, symbolising the strength of the friendship between NSW and India. The Government has a deep respect and appreciation for the Festival of Lights and the festival has been embraced by Hindu and non-Hindu communities across the state. The Diwali message is one of hope and new beginnings that everyone can relate to – light over darkness and good over evil – and I wish everyone a Happy Diwali!
Finally, I received a warm welcome by students playing Lebanese drums at the Maronite College of the Holy Family at Harris Park. It was my first visit to the school and it was good to see the strong values within the Maronite community on display at the school assembly. Sydney has the largest Maronite community in Australia and it’s great to see the community’s customs and traditions being handed down to the younger generations who in future will be entrusted with maintaining harmony in our society.