Business leaders from a range of sectors have pushed for improved training pathways to address the critical skill shortages in the Pilbara at a regional skills summit. While affordable training opportunities can be accessed through TAFE, Karratha and Districts Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Tanya Dodd said more needed to be done. “What we’re trying to get is for students to have up-to-date information so that when they go out on to the field, they actually know what they’re doing rather than learning old-school techniques,” she said. “After they go to TAFE, they could always upskill and then look at going to university and we’ve got a brilliant university centre here. “We’re hoping it won’t happen in a couple years and instead, we’ll be looking at a six-month timeline.” Pilbara Universities Centre chief executive Susan Grylls said it was critical to come up with timely solutions. “Skills is an absolute critical issue in the Pilbara, we’re forecast 40,000 new jobs in 2023 and that’s in the mining and resources sector but then there’s also the skills with respect to all those sectors like medical services, education services that support the industry,” she said. “It is imperative that we work out pathways to address those skills.” The back-to-back summits in Karratha and Port Hedland in November aimed to generate practical actions and ideas to form an action plan for the needs of the local workforce. Education and Training Minister Sue Ellery’s parliamentary secretary Terry Healy said the summit was part of a listening exercise. “We’ve discussed how there’s a lot of people under-utilised in our community — the young people, the mature-aged workers that could be re-skilled,” he said. Pilbara MLA Kevin Michel said it was important to be proactive with issues surrounding training, education and the workforce. Other issues such as workforce incentives and housing shortages were also raised.