BHP apprenticeships short-changing young Queenslanders

Published: 2 Oct 2020

BHP’s announcement today it will invest in more apprenticeships is a hollow promise, with existing training programs failing to provide Queenslanders with transferable skills and qualifications, the Miners’ Union said today.

CFMEU Mining and Energy Queensland President Stephen Smyth said trainees at BHP’s maintenance facility at Paget in Mackay had been shocked and disappointed to learn that programs they signed up for would not deliver a full trades qualification.

“Instead of getting youngsters fault finding, diagnosing, then repairing equipment as it comes in from the mines so they end up as diesel fitters or auto electricians - BHP has them stationed simply ripping certain broken components off and replacing them,” said Mr Smyth.

The CFMEU has met trainees who are shocked to learn they aren't working towards a trade qualification.

“These youngsters are being short-changed, BHP obviously didn’t clearly tell them they weren’t going to come out of this with a trade qualification,” said Mr Smyth.

BHP announced today it will fund 3500 new apprenticeships in the mining sector. But unless BHP is held to account for delivering proper, transferrable trade qualifications, its commitment today risks downgrading skills in the industry, said Mr Smyth.

“These are teenagers straight out of school, or youngsters who’ve come from retail or hospitality and they’re upset they won’t be getting a proper trade qualification so they can work in other industries or in other mines run by different mining companies.

“BHP are potentially deskilling a future generation of workers, when you compare what a normal apprenticeship and trade qualification requires, we see here BHP undercutting and undermining all that approach to give these workers a certificate which is only part of the skill required for a complete trade.

“It’s not just a problem for the industry, but for the workers’ own career progression because every other company is still with the traditional system that we have in place, this approach locks them into BHP and nowhere else,” said Mr Smyth.

More about BHP’s sham training in our September podcast.