Regional Water Industry Worker Project in Focus

Regional Water Industry Worker Project in Focus
Date: 12-Oct-2020

The Regional Water Industry Worker (WIW) pilot program is an example of a highly successful QWRAP project and recently received recognition as a finalist in the 2020 Premier's Industry Collaboration Awards. The project has seen Burdekin, Cairns, Mackay, Townsville and Whitsunday councils collaborate on upskilling operators and based on its success, was expanded this year to councils in the Wide Bay Burnett Regional Organisation of Council’s region.

The WIW program focusses on providing formal recognition of skills for the water network employees within councils – an essential and sometimes under-recognised role.  With a strong emphasis on on-the-job learning, the program provides a practical approach to valuing existing skills and acknowledges that experienced WIWs often gained their skills without a structured learning framework or other formal qualification.

The training program focusses on a key industry skills gap and allows for a baseline qualification to be issued to council employees with participants undertaking either a Certificate II or III in Water Industry Operations.

Collaboration among multiple councils has enabled career pathways within and across regions and created opportunities for continued collaboration, resource sharing and development of multi-skilled operators with consistent and trusted training credentials. It has also provided a solution to the difficulty experienced in attracting a skilled workforce to regional Queensland by creating a career path for local people; local jobs for local people.

The current expansion of the pilot program increases opportunities for skills development to six new service providers and a second intake across North Queensland councils. With four regions and a total of 10 councils offering WIW training, the program is on track to establishing secure and viable skills recognition and development for Queensland local government water network staff.

The project links through to four of the Queensland Government’s Priorities:

  • Creating jobs in a strong economy: Engage more young Queenslanders in education training or work.
    Creating a career path for local people increasing the opportunities for young people wanting not just a job, but a career in the urban water industry in a regional area.
    Addressing a well-known strategic risk for regional water businesses – attracting and retaining workers, all while building resilience into the regions through strong collaboration with neighbouring regions.
  • Give all our children a great start: Safe drinking water, free from source contaminants is critical to health.
    Reducing the risk to water quality by closing the loop on “catchment to tap” for operators.
  • Keep Queenslanders healthy: Good health starts with safe water.
    Addressing the skills gap in drinking water protection/ quality and providing a baseline skill and competency for all operators, to protect the delivery of safe drinking water into the future.
  • Protecting indigenous health through training and collaboration – the program includes one first nations council in the second phase.
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