President's Report - March, 2021

Posted on : Friday, 26 March 2021

Dear members,

 

Skill shortages are becoming apparent across many sectors of the Australian economy.

 

The fire protection industry is not immune from this trend. 

 

As an industry we must develop long-term sustainable strategies to ensure that we have sufficient numbers of skilled personnel to maintain our vital industry.

 

For some parts of our industry there is a clear career pathway.  For example, Certificate III in Fire Protection, as part of an apprenticeship, leads to a career as a sprinkler fitter and can often lead to senor positions within our industry.

 

For other sectors, such as passive fire protection, the pathway appears to be almost non-existent.   For design and detection, the pathways are limited.  


At a professional level we have commenced discussions with Engineers Australia and the Society of Fire Safety about potential collaboration to improve skills and knowledge about the use of performance solutions.  Performance solutions are being used in almost every new building in Australia, and the Australian Building Codes Board sees this trend continuing.  

 

As part of our strategic review, FPA Australia has committed to employing a National Training Manager who will oversee the development of a national training framework.  We will seek to work with all stakeholders to ensure that the necessary courses, trainers, and venues are available to deliver the skilled practitioners we need and to ensure a sustainable industry.  

 

As we approach budget time in many businesses, I would encourage owners and directors to review their commitment to apprenticeships, graduate programs, and traineeships.  With increased assistance now coming from governments, there has never been a better time.  For example:  

 

  • the Federal Government is providing considerable financial and logistical support to businesses employing apprentices, as part of its national response to the Coronavirus pandemic; and 

  • in many states there some form of fee relief has been introduced.  


We commend both levels of government for these initiatives. 

 

In NSW I have already met with Ministers to lobby them for continued fee relief for apprentices.  As Covid restrictions subside, FPA Australia will continue to lobby all levels of government across all jurisdictions for more support for training. 

 

But we will need our members to step up as well, to ensure that we can offer opportunities to the next generation.  

 

 

William (Bill) Lea, AFSM
President