Skilling for recovery in regional NSW

A collaborative approach to skilling for recovery in regional NSW using state initiatives and private industry investment to invigorate a skilled workforce needed for construction in the NSW renewable sector. 



Substantial public and private investment is planned and underway in the NSW Electricity Supply Industry (ESI), as the Australian Energy Market transitions to a broader generation technology mix of thermal, renewables, battery storage and distributed energy generation.

The NSW Transmission Infrastructure Strategy is the NSW Government’s plan to unlock private sector investment in priority transmission infrastructure projects, which can deliver least cost energy to customers to 2040 and beyond.

The Strategy forms part of the government’s broader plan to make energy more affordable, secure investment in new power generation and network infrastructure; and ensure new technologies deliver benefits for consumers. 

NSW Government is underwriting economic programs through initiatives like the Skilling for Recovery, Regional Government Renewable Energy Zone and the Investment Action Fund to encourage investment in these rural and regional areas with the understanding that private industry needs to know that they have access to skilled labour or access to pathways to skill that labour.

A shortage in skilled labour is rapidly approaching in the ESI as projects progress and Covid-19 restricts workforce mobility globally. There is difficulty in labour moving across state borders, difficulty in bringing in labour from out of country and a need to stimulate local regional communities.

There is an underpinning commercial need for a skilled workforce to support the government funded initiatives and to attract investment into the state, and investors need to know that it has access to labour.

A case in point is the recently announced 900km transmission link, known as EnergyConnect, which is being developed by NSW’s TransGrid and South Australia’s ElectraNet. The giant new project will create up to 1,500 construction jobs.

Our role

In response to this rapid growth in renewable energy generation developments for the NSW ESI, Thomson Bridge has combined forces with Wagga Wagga based Ironbark Training, an RTO dedicated to civil and construction skills development, to deliver training in regional and rural NSW.

The Ironbark - Thomson Bridge collaboration will provide entry level training, as well as courses for compliance and upskilling. Courses include nationally recognised qualifications and units from the Civil and Energy Industry Training Packages and will be developed in consultation with the energy network owners, contractors and electricity authorities.

“Our objective is to provide skills training to enable workers to participate in the construction of NSW’s renewable generation sector whether it’s as a construction worker, electrical worker or in an ongoing operational role,” said Lisa Parkinson, MD Thomson Bridge.

Thomson Bridge combined forces with Ironbark Training as no single organisation provides all the required services, and both are passionate about delivering to regional, rural and remote areas.  We fully understand the impact and contribution it makes to those communities.

We are tapping into some NSW State Government initiatives such as Skilling for Recovery and are the recipients of training funding for some construction and Global Wind Organisation (GWO) wind sector basic safety training packages where the government contributes to the cost of the individual undertaking training.

These services will be contributing to the Government Renewable Energy Zone initiative where they’re collaborating with the transmission network owner TransGrid, to encourage business to develop renewable assets in these designated zones in NSW.

Another is the NSW Regional Development initiative better known as the Regional Investment Action Fund, which allocates relocation grants to attract skilled employees to the different precincts. We’re working on the Wagga Wagga precinct and a few of the other special activation precincts that are supporting the regional growth.

Thomson Bridge has established a reputation for quality training and expertise across the Australian ESI market and has steadily grown since establishment in 2013 as a provider capable of supporting the ESI industry with a full scope training and electrical safety advisory service.

Project Details

  • Client: NSW Renewable Energy Sector, NSW Government economic programs
  • Location: New South Wales
  • Industry: Renewable Energy Generation
  • Our Role: The Ironbark - Thomson Bridge collaboration provides entry level training, as well as courses for compliance and upskilling to prepare a skilled workforce needed for the growth in the construction of the NSW renewable sector.
  • Outcome: NSW Government and private industry will have access to skilled labour or access to pathways to skill that labour for construction in the NSW renewable sector.