Third of workforce on Western Sydney Airport construction learning new skills

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Western Sydney Airport (WSA) is upskilling nearly a third of the workforce (30%) involved in the construction of Australia’s newest airport, thanks to a series of training and apprenticeship programs.

WSA offers several training initiatives including traineeships for high school graduates and opportunities for university graduates to kick start their careers, as well as pre-employment programs with Technical and Further Education (TAFE) and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) to inspire Western Sydney high school students to take up careers in aviation and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Simon Hickey, CEO at Western Sydney Airport (WSA), said that the original target was for learning workers to account for 20% of the workforce, and confirmed that the airport would create further training opportunities as terminal construction ramps up and once runway construction commences later this year.

“We are focused on setting our workforce up for success, wherever their careers may take them after WSA, which is why we are passionate about upskilling and providing on-the-job training. Our commitment to the region goes further than job creation. We want to ensure Western Sydney International drives generational change by boosting local skills development beyond airport construction and for decades to come. WSA is about more than building an airport – it’s about empowering our community to take advantage of the new era of jobs and opportunities the airport will deliver to their doorstep,” Hickey said.

Alieu Turay, a local from North Parramatta, joined WSA’s earthworks team in 2020 when he was new to the Australian construction industry, having arrived in Australia as a refugee from Sierra Leone. Through training programs offered by WSA’s major earthworks contractor CPB Contractors and Acciona joint venture, Turay has worked his way from a laborer to driving a roller and is now operating a CAT651 Scraper, one of the largest earthmoving machines on-site, as well as completing a Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety.

Turay said, “As a beneficiary of the opportunities this project is creating for the Western Sydney community, I am proud to be working on one of the biggest earthmoving projects Australia has ever seen and grateful that such an opportunity is right on my doorstep. I’m learning skills and gaining qualifications on this project that will open up new career pathways for me in the future.”

Similarly, Quakers Hill local Samantha Salkeld went from high school to designing an international airport, joining the airport’s design team under WSA’s trainee program and undertaking full-time work while also achieving a TAFE qualification.

Salkeld said, “This is my first job out of high school and I get the opportunity to help design an international airport, using design to show the world what Western Sydney is all about. It’s an incredible career opportunity and it’ll be amazing come 2026 when the airport opens to say ‘I helped build that’.”

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