Bridging the skills gap in drilling

PwC’s Skills for Australia has been featured in the May edition of Australasian Drilling magazine, the official publication of the Australian Drilling Industry Association (ADIA) and the New Zealand Drillers Federation (NZDF).

Titled Bridging the Skills Gap, the piece highlights the work carried out by the Mining, Drilling and Civil Infrastructure (MDCI) team on behalf of Industry Reference Committees (IRCs).

The article explains why the need to reshape the Resources and Infrastructure Industry (RII) training package is critical; and how all stakeholders across the industry can become involved in this undertaking.

Chief Executive Officer of ADIA, Peter Hall, said training is imperative in addressing the skills gap.

“While exploration drilling is continuing to gather pace globally, there is also an accompanying global skills shortage. The problem in securing drillers in Australia is also the same problem most other countries are experiencing,” Mr Hall said.

“A significant part of the solution must be a mix of training and upskilling existing personnel, attracting new personnel to join the drilling industry and also encouraging the return of experienced people who left during the downturn.”

To view the article, click on the virtual edition of the magazine and turn to page 42. Alternatively, you can read the content below:


Bridging the skills gap

Vocational education has always played a major role in the drilling industry. Given the expected increase in demand for drillers, alignment of the RII training package to industry skills requirements needs to happen now.

PwC’s Skills for Australia (a Skills Service Organisation) on behalf of the Mining, Drilling and Civil Infrastructure Industry Reference Committees (MDCI IRCs) are working towards making these much-needed changes to the Resources and Infrastructure Industry (RII) training package. The Australian Government is commissioning this work, where IRCs are a body which oversee training package development, and are also a forum for industry engagement and review of industry trends.

Final stage projects

There is a four-year rolling project plan created by PwC’s Skills for Australia to complete a full-scale review of the RII training package. There are a number of projects, which are in their final stages of the training product development process.

These include a review of: mobile plant operations and materials handling (RIIMPO and RIIHAN) units of competency to properly reflect the role of the operator; first emergency response (RIIERR) units to clarify use of PPE, firefighting equipment and techniques; shotfiring (RIIBLA) units to properly reflect the role of the shotfirer and support shotfirer; and tyre fitting (RIISAM) units as a response to fatalities and incidents which have occurred due to unsafe fitting and handling of tyres on site.

Review process

Review of the training products associated with each project begins with consultation with the IRCs, with a project working group (PWG) comprised of subject matter experts, and a period of public consultation. Once the consultation period is complete, the findings are summarised and presented to the MDCI IRCs for review and approval. From here, draft changes to the relevant units of competency, qualifications and skill sets within the RII training package occur.

These are reviewed with PWG members, and uploaded to the PwC’s SKills for Australia website for a two-week public consultation and review period. Final changes are made to training products and are endorsed by IRC members.

Upcoming drilling project

A number of projects have recently begun initial consultations in preparation for project work to commence this year. This includes a drilling specific project looking at reviewing all drilling qualifications, units of competency and skill sets within the training package.

PwC’s Skills for Australia are always interested in hearing your thoughts on the RII training package. If you have an interest in or would like the opportunity to improve the skills, knowledge and safety of the MDCI workforce, please contact PwC’s Skills for Australia and subscribe to the website

For more information contact PwC’s Skills for Australia on 1800 714 819 or