Community members, including Mayor Camillo Blanco, government representatives and Traditional Owners, joined Fortescue’s Founder and Chairman, Andrew Forrest AO and Fortescue Chief Executive Officer, Nev Power to celebrate the tenth anniversary of Fortescue’s pioneering Vocational Training and Employment Centre (VTEC) program in Port Hedland.
VTEC, which first opened in South Hedland Shopping Centre in 2006, is based on a simple but compelling idea: after successfully completing training with Fortescue, you are guaranteed a job. In 2007, 20 Aboriginal people graduated from Fortescue’s VTEC having completed the first ever Aboriginal training program for rail track laying in the Pilbara. The inaugural graduates commenced fulltime employment with Fortescue working on the world class rail construction project.
“I have always believed in the power of providing a hand up, not a hand out and this is what VTEC is all about. By giving Aboriginal people the chance to develop their skills and seize the opportunities provided by VTEC, we are breaking the cycle of jobless training once and for all,” Mr Forrest said.
The Federal Government adopted Fortescue’s VTEC model in 2014 and established 29 VTECs across Australia.
“It’s been incredibly humbling to see this simple, common sense approach, which was born in the Pilbara, reach communities across the country and provide job opportunities for over 7,000 Aboriginal people,” Mr Forrest said.
Mr Power said Fortescue’s VTEC program has been at the heart of the company’s approach to Aboriginal engagement for a decade.
“Fortescue is committed to ensuring communities benefit from the growth and development of its business by providing opportunities for training, employment and business development,” Mr Power said.
“VTEC is more than an opportunity for the graduate, it provides role models for children, sustainable income for families and foundations on which to build the capability and capacity of the broader community.”
“The partnerships Fortescue has built with community and government have been fundamental to the success of VTEC and I would particularly like to thank North West regional TAFE Pundulmurra and Minurmarghali Mia Campuses. Their ongoing support has contributed to the sustainability of VTEC,” Mr Power said.
Since the initiative began a decade ago, 774 Aboriginal people have begun employment with Fortescue, while a further 794 Aboriginal people have received driver education and health and literacy support services from VTEC.
In 2014, the Federal Government committed to building a national VTEC network, based on Fortescue’s model. The VTECs supported by the Federal Government have supported 7,000 Aboriginal people to gain employment.