The state and federal governments have been urged to give urgent consideration to the establishment of an Energy Centre of Excellence at Tighes Hill TAFE to help meet the surging demand for training in clean energy and related industries.
The Hunter Jobs Alliance commissioned the University of Newcastle's Institute of Regional Futures and specialist business case analysts Turbo to research the need, potential models, costs and outcomes for the centre.
A scoping study and preliminary business case found the Tighes Hill campus was a strong contender for a 'hub and spoke' energy centre of excellence to service the state's needs, including the main Renewable Energy Zones in the Central West and New England.
It recommended the Australian and NSW Governments and TAFE NSW urgently assess the possibility of establishing the centre by 2024.
"The vocational training system in NSW is struggling to train enough workers in key trades that are demanded both by existing industries and by fast growing renewable sectors," Hunter Jobs Alliance coordinator Justin Page said.
"The Australian and NSW Governments have committed to a new vocational training model based on TAFE Centres of Excellence but are yet to commit to specific funding or locations.
The alliance is among a number of industry groups that have expressed concern that the roll out of major renewable energy projects will be delayed by a chronic skills shortage in key trades.
Electrical, engineering and boiler making trades are among those most in need for the construction of the state's five Renewable Energy Zones.
Tighes Hill has existing training in key trades including electrotechnology and renewable energy.
It is also accessible to the state's largest renewable energy zones and is located next to national growth industries such as offshore wind, hydrogen and component manufacturing
The study also assesses the Hunter Region as having strong advantages to rapidly deliver on the Australian and NSW Governments' TAFE Centre of Excellence model, given the strong existing collaboration between regional vocational, tertiary, research and industry training initiatives.
The report said facility refurbishment costs of $41 million would create a high quality and attractive student experience, effectively reuse existing facilities, and provide space for future expansion.
"A TAFE Energy Centre of Excellence could train an additional 450 students annually at Tighes Hill with a five year operational budget of $22 million" Mr Page said.
Purchase and operation of Tighes Hill-based Mobile Training Units, including teaching staff, to deliver training statewide at other TAFE campuses and in the field across NSW would total $3.6 million over five years.
The government is in the process of establishing several regional authorities that will complement the Commonwealth government's Net Zero Authority to support workers, industries and communities to seize transformational opportunities.
Reskilling and redeploying the existing workforce is a key focus of the authorities, which the government committed to during the election campaign.
The authority will also work in partnership with the newly established Hunter-based TAFE manufacturing centre of excellence.
The Hunter Jobs Alliance will bring together stakeholders from around the Hunter at Wallsend Diggers at 6.30pm on Thursday to discuss the findings from the Tighes Hill Energy Centre of Excellence business case.
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