$700M jail project to upskill trade workforce
AMBITIOUS employment targets at one of the Clarence Valley's largest infrastructure projects is helping to secure a skilled workforce into the future.
The $700million Clarence Correctional Centre construction at Lavadia is the fourth large-scale project in the state to become part of the Infrastructure Skills Legacy Program, a NSW Government initiative to boost the number of skilled construction workers.
The other three are Lismore Base Hospital, WestConnex and Sydney Metro.
Deputy Premier and Minister for Skills, Small Business and Regional NSW John Barilaro said the program sets targets for the number of apprentices, women and indigenous workers employed by companies that win contracts to deliver major government infrastructure projects.
"We want to make sure that by the end of construction there is a generation of skilled workers in the local area that can continue to contribute to their communities in the future," Mr Barilaro said.
Clarence Correctional Centre's project director John Holland Group announced it is currently exceeding its targets of 20 per cent of tradespeople on site being apprentices, and eight per cent indigenous, with figures currently sitting at 24 per cent and 10 per cent respectively.
At the height of its construction it is expected to employ about 1100 people, and more than 600 permanent jobs once it is operational from 2020 onwards.
"There will be even more opportunities for young people in the coming weeks and months as the trade force continues to grow," John Holland's senior project officer for the Infrastructure Skills Legacy program Stevie Cole said.
Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis said the influx of infrastructure projects in the Clarence Valley provided an unprecedented opportunity to upskill the next generation of workers.
"It's great to see our workforce upskilled to leave a legacy for the future," Mr Gulaptis said.
"Projects like these are critical to regional NSW to build the workforce for tomorrow, and it's something we've never had before.
"This is a $700m infrastructure project and it's going to create jobs at the end of it of course, which is a whole new ball game, but in the interim it's training our civil construction workforce.
"We need to step away from 457 visas for our trades and professions.
"The level of infrastructure we're seeing throughout the Clarence Valley is unprecedented. It's once in a generation, something I've never seen in my 38 years here and I don't think I will again, or my kids or my grandkids.
"You only have to look around at the infrastructure projects on the North Coast, from $543 million for the new Tweed Hospital, $273 million that's being spent on Lismore Base Hospital, $80 million on Byron Central Hospital, $50 million on Macksville Hospital, then the Pacific Highway from Woolgoolga to Ballina which is nearly $5 billion and the Grafton Bridge, the Sportsmans's Creek Bridge, and the list just goes on. It's just massive.
"I'd suggest that this is probably the best opportunity for young people in the Clarence Valley to learn a new skill or to get a job."
FUTURE LEGACY: Meet our next generation of skilled tradies
Tyson Kliendienst-Jones, 19, Jacob Mersy-Ireland, 18, and Shannon Kennedy, 31, are three young indigenous men from the local region currently employed as apprentices on the construction site.
Mr Kennedy, from Coramba, has been put on as an apprentice electrician for Fredon. He previously worked in construction materials testing and knows from experience how difficult it has been in regional areas to find an apprenticeship.
"Especially around here. A few years ago I applied for an apprenticeship with Essential Energy at Coffs and there were hundreds of applicants," he said.
"Finding work as a labourer hasn't been too bad with the roadworks, but no one wants to be responsible for putting on an apprentice," he said.
Mr Kennedy did a pre-employment course at Newcastle before landing his new role and is looking forward to the opportunities an apprenticeship will provide for his future.
"I want to sub (contract) for myself, have my own van and rake in the money for myself."
Mr Kliendienst-Jones moved to Grafton from Armidale in 2017 and had a casual job on the site with another company before securing his plumbing apprenticeship for John R Keith.
"My baby was born on June 27 so it's good to find full-time work," he said. "It's helped out heaps.
"Hopefully once I'm fully qualified I can get off to the mines."
Mr Mersy-Ireland started as an apprentice security technician for Chubb Fire & Security in April.
"I was working at McDonalds before this. This was an opportunity for something new and I took it straight away," he said.
"Work was slow to start with but now that building is ramping up it's starting to get busy and hectic and I'm doing something new every day."
PROJECT FAST FACTS
- Construction cost: $700million
- Delivery model: Public private partnership
- Delivery Partner: Northern Pathways, a consortium comprising John Holland, John Laing, Serco and Macquarie Capital.
- Expected project employment: 1,100 during construction and up to 600 once operational
- Expected opening: mid-2020
- Inmate capacity: 1700
- June 2015: Project Announcement
- Nov 2015: Site selection
- Feb 2016: Announcement of increased capacity to 1000
- June 2016: Announcement of increased bed capacity to 1600
- August 2016: Display of Stage One EIS
- March 2017: Planning approval Stage One
- March 2017: Announcement of preferred bidder
- June 2017: Contract signing
- July 2017: Start of early work
- July 2017: Display of Stage Two EIS
- December 2017: Planning approval Stage Two
- February 2018: Start of major work
- Early 2020: Construction completion
- Early 2020: Commissioning
- Mid-2020: Commencement of operations
The Clarence Correctional Centre will:
- Inject about $560 million into the local economy over the next 20 years;
- Create long term economic opportunities through the procurement of a range of goods and services;
- Offer a greater focus on rehabilitation without compromising safety and security;
- Will help ensure people come out of prison rehabilitated and ready to work.
- 1000 bed male maximum security facility;
- 300 bed female maximum security facility 400 bed male minimum security facility;
- Onsite medical, laundry, education, industry and multi-faith religion and culture facilities.