Mining companies will also be able to apply for money from a $200 million government fund to pay for training.
The moves are part of a government response to official warnings that Australia’s mines will have a shortfall of 36,000 tradespeople by 2015.
The new apprenticeships will recognise prior learning and allow four-year training to be slashed to 18 months for 1000 workers.
The scheme, which was designed by Queensland-based East Coast Apprenticeships, will see 40 groups of 25 apprenticeships fast-tracked into jobs.
Queensland sites operated by Thiess and Anglo American Coal will be the first to use the new scheme, East Coast Apprenticeships chief executive Alan Sparks said.
New visa timeframes for foreign tradespeople
The Government’s plan for getting more workers into the booming resources sector includes a controversial new visa that would allow companies to get quicker access to foreign tradespeople for “mega” projects.
Employers will also benefit from five-day deadlines for the Immigration Department to process temporary work visas.
Skills and Jobs Minister Chris Evans said he was focused on training more Australians to work in mines and related construction projects.
But Senator Evans said Australia would need increased numbers of foreign workers to meet the demand of the booming resources sector.
“You’d expect in the period of growth to see more 457 (temporary visa) workers coming in,” he said.
“But I want to stress that the Government’s priority is still to make sure that there are job opportunities for Australians first.”
Senator Evans said training standards would not be cut with the new apprenticeships because they would carefully assess adults’ prior experience.
He suggested this could be a model for competency-based apprenticeships in other trades.
Businesses welcomed the announcement, saying it would help them meet skills shortages.
But unions called for apprenticeship targets to reduce the use of temporary migrant workers.
“Any plan to ease labour shortages must be matched by investment in skills training by employers,” ACTU President Ged Kearney said.
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