Employment opportunities at the Western Sydney Airport hold so much potential that they demand genuine and intense community engagement.
Our task is to ensure that as many of the new jobs as possible are filled by people from Western Sydney and that those jobs include training components that deliver skills they can use for the rest of their working lives. It’s not just jobs building the airport; it is jobs building the road and rail infrastructure and then ongoing jobs created by the airport as a catalyst. These jobs should have a training component providing transferable skills for local young people and re-skilling opportunities for mature age workers.
We need to collaborate on a jobs and skills plan that provides a skilled workforce capable of contributing not just to the airport, but to future projects. This effort should engage the entire community including councils, business groups, schools and universities, TAFE, unions and others.
The airport project should result in hundreds of young people from Western Sydney being engaged on the construction site as apprentices.
Labor leader Bill Shorten pointed the way, committing a future Labor government to ensuring 10 per cent of the workforce on Commonwealth funded infrastructure projects should be apprentices. The Western Sydney Airport is the perfect opportunity.
Schools and TAFEs in Western Sydney must be equipped to prepare today’s young people for the apprenticeship opportunities that beckon.
Likewise, we must think now about what industries have potential to flourish once the airport begins operations and collaborate with TAFE colleges and the University of Western Sydney to encourage them to focus more heavily on those skills.
On Tuesday I spent time with western suburbs-based company Celestino and Penrith mayor John Thain and his team to discuss the 2500 hectare Sydney Science Park in Luddenham.
This is an exciting development which is encouraged by the airport that will provide 12,000 jobs for the region in innovation, education and research. It will include 3400 dwellings on site. A deal has already been done with Catholic education to provide for Australia’s first K-12 STEM school in the country, which will accommodate 2000 students.
The Sydney Science Park exemplifies the multitude of business opportunities associated with the airport.
Anthony Albanese is the opposition spokesman for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development.
This piece is an extract from a speech to yesterday’s Western Sydney Aerotropolis Summit. It was first published in today’s edition of The Daily Telegraph.