AMMA executive director of industry services, Tara Diamond, has recently returned to Australia following her participation on the Australian Government’s largest ever skills delegation to India.

During the tour led by Australian Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane, Ms Diamond joined more than 100 representatives from across the training and various business sectors to build new connections with Indian skills providers and provide advice on transnational skills initiatives.

As the sole representative from a resource sector employer association, Ms Diamond played a key role in the delegation’s participation in two major Indian skills conferences.

On the first day of the tour she represented Australia’s resource industry on a business roundtable hosted by Minister Macfarlane at the Indian Industry’s Global Skills Summit in Mumbai. The next day, Ms Diamond presented to an audience of Indian training and skills professionals at the third India Australia Skills Conference.

“The India Australia Skills Conference was all about exploring developments in the Vocational Education and Training (VET) systems in both nations and identifying the opportunities and challenges these present for transnational skills,” Ms Diamond says.

“The skills dynamics of India and Australia are obviously quite different, but seizing on opportunities to create consistencies in our workforces is becoming very important as India’s economy continues to evolve at an astounding rate, and Australia readies itself to be a major global supplier of resources to such developing nations.

“Domestically, investments from major Indian companies are playing a big part in the ongoing prosperity of Australia’s resource sector, the best example being Adani’s proposed $15bn Carmichael coal mine in central Queensland.

“At the same time, India can learn many lessons from Australia in terms of the skills deployment and workforce planning required to build a major resource sector or public infrastructure project.”

At the conference, Ms Diamond provided several examples of the complex and innovative workforce and skills strategies implemented by Australian resource employers to build and operate new mega-resource projects.

Specifically, she focused on the mixed use of fly-in, fly-out and locally-based employees for remote projects, targeted strategies for attracting and retaining underrepresented employee talent pools, and special workforce development investments and initiatives that have seen Australian resource employers successfully source talent and manage cycles of peak workforce demand.

Another important part of her presentation focused on feedback from Australian HR managers with experience working in India.

“It was very valuable for the Indian skills professionals in the room to hear these experiences, particularly the types of challenges Australian managers have had in large workforce deployment in India,” Ms Diamond says.

“If India is to attract more multinational investment into its developing resource industry, it must overcome the problematic experiences in its skills competencies, cultural and social work factors.

“For instance, there is a significant lack of qualification consistency and on-job training compared to Australia or other established mining nations.

“At the same time, however, the country does have the potential to be a major source of engineering and project construction talent in South Asia.”

During the skills delegation, Minister Macfarlane launched an innovative vocational education and training pilot program to be trialled in India over the next 12 months.

The program will be delivered by Australian registered training providers working with either industry, Indian training providers or governments.

“India needs thousands of additional trainers and assessors as it strives to skill 500 million people by 2022 and Australia is a nation with training expertise,” Minister Macfarlane said.

“The governments of both countries are encouraging skills cooperation and laying the foundation for greater collaboration and development of commercial opportunities between Australian and Indian industry and training providers.”

After the two skills conferences and meetings with his Indian Government counterparts across resources and energy, and science and technology, Minister Macfarlane believes the trip successfully laid the groundwork for future opportunities to upskill the Indian resource sector labour force and collaborate on training models for large and small business.

AMMA’s Ms Diamond, who is also a member of Minister Macfarlane’s exclusive advisory board for VET reforms in Australia, was proud to actively represent our members in this important international event.

For more information about AMMA’s involvement in the Minister for Industry’s skills delegation to India, contact [email protected].