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The Western Australian Government has delivered a record $9.9 million investment to TAFE industry placement programs, where Rio Tinto is leading the charge.

The investment aims to connect WA TAFE college lecturers with placements that give them first-hand experience of industry skills and workforce needs.

Since the program was established, several North Metropolitan TAFE (NM TAFE) lecturers have completed placements at Rio Tinto’s Perth operations centre, gaining insights into the company’s autonomous operations.

Rio Tinto has also hosted NM TAFE lecturer placements at its Yandicoogina (Yandi) iron ore mine in the Pilbara, with a total of three placements completed at both sites by the end of 2023.

NM TAFE electrical instrumentation lecturer Adrian Fallon said his work placement at two of Rio Tinto’s operation centres gave him an insight into how the remote operations team relates to the first responders on site.

“I was keen to identify how our course training documents related to current industry policies and procedures, particularly in relation to safety, troubleshooting and process optimisation,” he said.

“I’m looking forward to sharing my learnings with my students who are all first responders on site.”

The program prioritises placements in industries experiencing rapid or complex changes such as new technologies and changing work practices, skills shortage areas, and industries with significant growth or opportunities for economic diversification.

“These lecturers are teaching the next generation of workers who might join our business and help us find better ways to provide the materials the world needs,” Rio Tinto people vice president Matt Kimball said.

“This enables our business to hire people with the relevant information and skills, and for students to get the most from their studies and kick-start their careers.”

A total of 428 lecturers participated in the industry placements across the five WA TAFE colleges in 2022 and 2023.

Participation in the program increased to 301 in 2023, from 127 in 2022.