The Skills Exchange - Barangaroo and Darling Harbour

2016
Winner
New South Wales

A collaboration of TAFE NSW - Western Sydney Institute, Lendlease - Barangaroo South and Lendlease - Darling Harbour

It’s often said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and if that’s the case, Lendlease and TAFE NSW, the primary partners behind the Skills Exchange Barangaroo and Darling Harbour, should be feeling very flattered indeed.

Established in 2013, the Barangaroo Skills Exchange revolutionised how workers engage with training and how employers’ workforce development needs are met. It was so successful that another Exchange was established in 2015 to support the development of the Darling Harbour precinct. Hundreds of government and industry observers have now visited the sites to look at and learn from the Exchanges’ ground breaking training model.

“We needed to develop something out of the box in order to bring together the myriad aspects of skilling and training for the construction phase of the multibillion dollar urban regeneration projects at Barangaroo and Darling Harbour,” said Ron Wright, Project Manager, Skills Exchange Barangaroo and Darling Harbour.

“What we came up with is a disruptive model similar to Airbnb or Uber which operates as a one-stop-shop for learning, combining the needs of hundreds of small and large contractors and sourcing ‘best of breed’, customised training from various TAFE institutes and private providers.”

In two years, 10,000 workers have undertaken formal skills training, resulting in over 16,000 accredited training outcomes ranging from Skills Sets to Advanced Diplomas covering areas such as apprentice mentoring, high risk license training, trades skilling and safety leadership. With a significant commitment by Lendlease to improving social equity, a key focus is providing foundation skills to vulnerable workers to improve literacy and numeracy skills.

“One of the most exciting and rewarding aspects of having the learning hub onsite is that a new cohort of workers who have never had the confidence or time to attend a TAFE or private college has become engaged in formal learning and for them and their families the experience has been life changing,” said Ron.

Major building projects in Australia and internationally are now using the Skills Exchange model and Ron believes it is its proven capacity for replication which earned it the Industry Collaboration Award at the 2016 Australian Training Awards.

 “We never dreamt that what was first started at Barangaroo would be replicated in other areas of Australia and overseas. It’s a credit to Lendlease that they have been very willing to share learnings with competitors in order to improve the culture and safety of the industry and build social equity. Its willingness to do this has had an impact right across the industry and to see other people taking on the model and using it to great benefit is really heart-warming.”