Speech to Australia India Mining Workshop
11 April 2017

Simon Birmingham: Thank you very much, Jim, for that welcome, and thank you for chairing and convening today’s workshop for this very important and very valuable workshop on mining skills, a great example of how it is that the partnership, the knowledge partnership as is being discussed just another room away, between Australia and India manifests itself in a real and practical way in terms of the sharing of understandings, skills, competency, knowledge, capacity, capability between two nations. So I’m really thrilled that this very tangible workshop has been established and conducted as part of the broad range of activities that our Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and I are undertaking together with a significant delegation from Australia who are participating in this exchange over these couple of days.

I understand that you are of course canvassing a range of different areas in terms of the skills in the mining and energy sector. Worth noting that in terms of the two-way trade and engagement activity between our two nations that mining and energy stands as the largest area of activity. Second, of course, is education and training. So today you bring together across education, training, mining, energy, the two largest parts of our collaborative venture as nations.

Australia, as I’m sure everybody in this room will appreciate, has an incredible history as a country of minerals development and minerals export, and in doing so we’ve established competencies and capabilities of which we are very proud that our companies have invested in working together with outstanding education and training providers to establish productivity-enhancing measures that ensure their extractive techniques, their environmental technologies, and their capacity to identify and source resources and their ability to export them to the world are among some of the best practices that can be found anywhere. These skills, these assets have helped in the case of our nation to fuel a prolonged period of economic activity, a boom period in mining construction that is now being followed by a prolonged period of export of our minerals resources around the world. This is important for us, and it is also of course critical for the nation to rely upon those resources for their own energy development, for their own construction materials, for of course the development and enhancement of their own economies into the future.

As minister undertaking my first visit to India as Minister for Education and Training, I’m already very pleased to see the depth of collaboration, and the way in which I can see new opportunities for us to enhance our partnership across education and training, and in doing so complementing different industry sectors like the mining and energy sector. It’s very important that education and training underpins not just the exchange of technical skills or capabilities, but also of interpersonal relationships which can build and strengthen all other areas of business, economic activity, public diplomacy and security or cultural and social ties, and they’re the types of things that you can’t put dollar values on, but they are the real benefits that flow from cooperation, partnership, and transfer of knowledge and skills in a way that changes the lives of individuals, but also enhances of course the contribution they make to their families, their communities and to development of our two nations.

Later today, I look forward to meeting for the first time with Minister Javadekar and again with Minister Rudy to discuss how our governments can work together to best strengthen that exchange of knowledge and skills, how it is that we in Australia can help India to realise her dreams and aspirations of seeing some 400 million people skilled by 2020 and the ambitious target set by Prime Minister Modi. And in doing so and ensuring that those skills that people receive are building capacity and capability here in India for India to grow, because we know that a strong India and a stronger economic contribution from India, and enhanced lifestyles and livelihoods in India is great for our region and for the world, and in doing so, of course, it enhances opportunities for Australia as well.

I’ve already had the opportunity to see first hand some of the high-quality skills initiatives that are taking place here in India and I look forward to seeing more of those, including not just across vocational education technical skills but also the richness of our higher education and research collaboration. We have more than 400 different research partnerships across a range of different fields, including mining and energy, that really can make a world of difference in terms of the type of practices deployed by businesses in both our countries. And a real focus of our government has been on encouraging research prospects and activities to be undertaken in a greater spirit of collaboration between education and training and research entities with business and industry, and to reach out to the world in a way that ensures research breakthroughs actually also then drive further innovation and economic development into the future.

We’ve equally really focused as a government on how it is that we ensure our world class vocational education, training and technical skills sector continues to build upon a long history of having been developed on the basis of training packages, competencies that were established thanks to input from industry, based on the identified skills needs of industry. And we know that here, in meeting those skills challenges set by Prime Minister Modi, the ambitions of India, provides an opportunity for us as a country to be able to continue to help India work on developing further training competencies that definitively meet the needs of your businesses that ensure they see the merit in investing up front in the development of skills for young Indians who are then able to be able to secure jobs and contribute to your phenomenal economic growth.

We are very pleased to have particularly developed new capabilities for the training of trainers and assessors here in India. This is central to the establishment of enhanced capability within the training sector in India, and it is perhaps the prime area where we as a government see real opportunities for Australian training providers to be able to work collaboratively with partnership ventures in India, and in doing so, to be able to train more trainers, build that capability of Indian training entities in partnership to be able to skill more people into the future.

I thank you in particular for the focus today that you’re bringing today to how these ventures can be realised in the mining sector, a sector that remains at the forefront of Australia’s economy, a sector in which much more can be achieved and realised in India, and where our co-dependence and collaboration remains essential. Now, I look forward to hearing from you in terms of the outcomes of some of your deliberations today and to being able to take away from here specific actions, policy priorities that we as a government should be continuing to focus on in our deliberations from India.

So, thank you very much for those who have travelled to be here today, for taking the time to do so and the commitment you have shown. Thank you for those who have travelled not quite so far for the commitment that you are showing to the Australia India partnership and the opportunities that we can make and build upon thanks to what is already an incredibly strong relationship. I look forward, as I say, to hearing more of your outcomes and wish you every success in today’s workshop.

Minister Birmingham’s media contact: James Murphy 0478 333 974
Nick Creevey 0447 664 957
Department Media: media@education.gov.au