“Parramatta Connect’s approach to delivering the Infrastructure Skills Legacy Program (ISLP) requirements has been to develop an action plan to address how each target would be individually delivered and met. This ensured a clear vision and accountability with agreed actions and outcomes." - Mary Pieri, Workforce Development Project Officer
This case study highlights the commitment of Transport for NSW and Parramatta Connect, a CPB Downer joint venture, to improve construction industry diversity and inclusion by engaging under-represented groups on the project. This relates to points 9 and 10 in the NSW Action Plan.
As part of its workforce development and social procurement strategy, the Parramatta Light Rail project is working to achieve greater workforce diversity, upskill workers and provide opportunities for local communities. The project adopted Infrastructure Skills Legacy Program (ISLP) targets in line with points 9 and 10 of the NSW Action Plan, as well as targets to increase participation of disadvantaged groups in the local community. To achieve these targets the project implemented a number of initiatives, including:
To drive achievement and inform subcontractors of workforce development targets, Parramatta Connect held a subcontractor forum (contracts over $500m). The successful event shared details of training initiatives and strategies to employ, train and retain people from disadvantaged groups. The project is also working with subcontractors on reporting their progress towards monthly workforce development targets.
Skills gap analysis
In April 2020, Parramatta Connect developed a skills gap analysis for all employees to identify opportunities to upskill existing workers. This includes developing bespoke skillsets for their workforce and engineers relating to construction and installation of the track.
Encouraging women in non-traditional roles
Parramatta Connect is committed to ensuring women are considered for all positions, particularly non-traditional roles. This is achieved through strategies such as pre employment programs targeting females, as well as employing a dedicated female labourer for each construction zone.
To date, Parramatta Connect has directly employed the following women in non-traditional roles: 3 site engineers, a female foreman, an engineering design manager, design coordinator and 3 general labourers, 1 of whom is completing her apprenticeship in Civil Construction Plant Operations.
A plant hire company engaged on the project has committed to provide only female operators for all plant equipment hired and to date, 17 women have been inducted on the project.
Three female participants were selected as part of Parramatta Connect’s first pre-employment program. Working with Job Active, the program is designed to increase the social opportunity for local, long-term unemployed Aboriginal people, refugees and asylum seekers.
For the duration of the project, Parramatta Connect will engage with high schools and universities to inspire future talent within the industry. This will include in-house programs targeting high school students in environmental and sustainability studies, providing construction overviews, careers presentations and site tours, and supporting school-based trainee programs. The project will also participate in career fairs at the local Western Sydney University campus.
Social procurement strategy
Parramatta Connect has a strong focus on identifying opportunities to engage with social enterprises and Aboriginal businesses.
The project has engaged Clean Force as the office cleaning provider. Clean Force has a blended workforce, with approximately 50% of employees living with disability or other disadvantages.
Parramatta Connect also partnered with the Industry Capability Network and Great River City Light Rail consortium to hold a subcontractor forum for small to medium enterprises, Aboriginal businesses and social enterprises. These organisations received an overview of the delivery scopes for both packages of work and information on potential tender and supply chain opportunities.
School Based Apprenticeship and Traineeship Opportunities
The NSW School Based Apprenticeship and Traineeship (SBAT) program offers employers support to take on and train senior high school students. The program is designed to help students who are interested in commencing a trade, but also want to complete their Higher School Certificate (HSC).
Parramatta Connect is partnering with CathWest Innovation College to provide 3 Year 11 students the opportunity to complete a traineeship in civil construction during their final years of high school. The students will complete work experience on the Parramatta Light Rail project and graduate with a nationally accredited qualification - Certificate II in Civil Construction.
The students work 1 day a week onsite, where they are allocated to a work crew and assigned general labouring duties and can also work extra days during school holidays. By the time the students finish their HSC, they will have worked with project leaders in disciplines such as engineering, safety, design and construction.
Working in partnership with Job Active providers, Sarina Russo and Global Skills, and registered training organisation, Health and Safety Advisory Service, Parramatta Connect has designed its first pre-employment training program.
The program provides opportunities for Indigenous Australians, refugees and asylum seekers to learn entry level construction skills, with a view to securing employment as a trainee on the project through subcontractor partners.
The training is combined with a 2-day mental health and wellbeing workshop to provide participants with tools on how to manage stress and build resilience in the workplace and at home.
The first program was run in Spring 2020. Of the 10 participants, 7 achieved employment in a Certificate II Civil Construction traineeship. Two are employed directly by Parramatta Connect, with the other 5 employed through project subcontractors.
Mature age apprentices
Existing workers employed by Parramatta Connect have been given the opportunity to upskill to trade level by undertaking a civil construction apprenticeship. Six workers aged in their 30s, 40s and 50s are upskilling in essential areas such as pipe laying and plant operations. Providing apprenticeships for mature age workers in turn creates more entry-level vacancies. These can be filled by new entrants to the industry through pre-employment programs, which helps to contribute growing the pipeline of skilled workers.
The Parramatta Connect project is exceeding most of its Infrastructure Skills Legacy Program (ISLP) targets (see fig. 1) and is working towards meeting and exceeding the others. By aiming to exceed its targets, the project has deployed a series of initiatives that target new job opportunities for young people and has helped to increase the representation of young people, women, and Aboriginal people in the construction industry.
Figure 1: A clustered bar graph showing the project’s achievements against ISLP targets – September 2020