A THINK TANK advocating for more renewables training opportunities in the region has met with the state government official advocating for electricity infrastructure jobs.
New England Visions 2030 Institute convener Maria Hitchcock shared her concerns about specialists flying in and out to work on renewables projects, instead of training local people.
"That's our main concern, is that the residents of New England be given the opportunities to train for these future jobs," she said.
Jobs advocate Mark Apthorpe's role is to advise the state government minister for energy on strategies and incentives to encourage investment, development, employment and education and training opportunities in the sector.
Since commencing the role in 2022, Dr Apthorpe has engaged with stakeholders and visited the New England Renewable Energy Zone (REZ).
In his observations included in his first report published November 2022, he said a reported shortage of workers will mean New England REZ projects will compete with other nearby infrastructure, such as the Moree Special Activation Precinct.
Local training in renewable energy is generally not available, he said, forcing students to travel to Tamworth, Newcastle or Sydney and causing businesses to establish in-house solutions.
Residents of New England [should] be given the opportunities to train for these future jobs.- Maria Hitchcock, New England Visions 2030 Institute convener
There is a reported 'vocal minority' opposing renewables in New England, which may make the New England REZ "one of the hardest to establish", he said.
"Concerns about the REZ include potential impacts on prime agricultural land, loss of amenity and the decommissioning and remediation process," he said.
The main focus is on getting training happening in the region, Ms Hitchcock said, and working with schools.
"We said that we needed to go into the schools themselves, and talk to the careers advisers," she said.
"Perhaps get some of the renewables companies involved to make presentations to year nine and 10 students in particular, to show them this is the future."
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