A unique pilot program developed collaboratively between CSQ, Skill360 and Batavia Downs Station has helped prepare local Indigenous workers in the Western Cape to be work ready as major infrastructure and civil projects emerge in the region.

CSQ funded the training for a ‘live in’ skills development program which brought ten young Indigenous men to live on the Batavia Downs Station as part of a civil construction skills program delivered by the Registered Training Organisation – Skill360. Five participants in the program were also part of an RTAW (Rio Tinto Alcan Weipa) work placement program being conducted on Batavia Downs. CSQ welcomed the opportunity to run the program jointly with the RTAW initiative.

The participants were taught a range of industry recognised competencies and work/employability skills that will open doors and opportunities for a career in the construction industry. On-site mentoring was provided to the group to enable them to develop as a team and individually.

Skill360 CEO Peter Langbien said the ‘on country’ learning experience had made a real difference to the participants.

“Out here at Batavia Downs the boys are away from distractions and their peers, it’s definitely a better option than sitting in a classroom in Weipa.”

“A strong practical focus has given the boys an opportunity to safely prepare and operate plant machinery like rollers and graders, he said.

Batavia Downs Station and KNK Co Pty Ltd (a civil construction company) is Indigenous owned and operated. Owners Graham and Karen Robertson from Batavia Downs welcomed the training initiative saying there was a real need for more skilled civil construction workers in the area.

“We’ve created a training hub for civil construction that provides more than just a classroom experience. Living with us here on the station means the boys have been able to live on a working cattle property, developing some great life skills,” said Karen.

“Everyone pitches in with station chores like feeding the animals and maintaining the vegetable garden, but there’s lots of fun too with everyone playing cricket and touch football in their spare time.”

“The boys were quiet and shy when they arrived, but we encouraged them to take on leadership roles within the group and they have really grown as individuals.”

“There’s a strong connection to the land here and we had an Indigenous mentor working closely with them”, she said.

CSQ’s CEO Brett Schimming says with projects like the Peninsula Development Road (PDR) coming online and the possibility of other infrastructure projects in the region, there is a need for more civil training opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

“We want to ensure there are opportunities for local Indigenous workers to start a career pathway in the building and construction industry, and this ‘live in’ model has proven to be a winner,” he said.

The group were presented with certificates at a special presentation at Batavia Downs today, with several having already secured jobs.