Australia must train tens of thousands of new sparkies if it wants to be a renewable energy superpower, according to the Electrical Trades Union.
The warning comes as Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen hosts a jobs summit in Canberra on Tuesday with industry, unions, environmental groups and community advocates.
Electrical apprentice completion rates currently sit at just 52 per cent, which is too low if Australia is to overhaul energy and industrial processes to meet its climate commitments, union boss Michael Wright says.
The federal government is setting aside $100 million to support 10,000 New Energy Apprenticeships.
But electrical apprentices are failing to complete their training because of the soaring cost of living and lack of mentoring, according to a survey conducted by Essential Media for the union.
“Australia will need tens of thousands of skilled electrical workers to connect renewables like solar, wind and batteries to our electricity grid,” Mr Wright said.
The survey of 642 electrical apprentices showed more than a third (37 per cent) were thinking about quitting.
Meanwhile the Climate and Energy Jobs Summit is examining the investment required and what is needed to upskill workers so they can transition from old economy jobs into sustainable employment.
“There will be opportunities for workers in traditional industries such as oil and gas workers to use their skills in emerging industries,” Mr Bowen said.
There will be new occupations such as wind turbine technicians and energy efficiency engineers.
“Australia is on the path to becoming a renewable energy superpower and with that comes the potential for high-skill, high-paying sustainable jobs in industries such as renewable manufacturing, green hydrogen, offshore wind and energy efficiency,” he said.
“Australian mining has a strong future too – including supplying the critical minerals needed the world over for decarbonisation.”
The findings from the mini jobs summit will be presented at next month’s skills summit at Parliament House.
(Australian Associated Press)