The centre is part of GE’s technology and learning facility, which is the largest complex of its kind in Australia. GE said that the centre is a cornerstone of GE’s commitment to support the growth of the country’s resources industry, including the LNG production sector. Prime Minister Julia Gillard officially opened the new facility, joined by other leading government officials; GE executives including Steve Sargent, president and Chief Executive Officer of GE Australia and New Zealand; Dan Heintzelman, Chief Executive Officer and President of GE Oil & Gas; David Leslie, General Manager, GE Oil & Gas Australia and New Zealand; and representatives of leading oil and gas companies that operate in the region.

“In collaboration with the Australian government and private sector, we are making a significant investment in skills and development training to help address the Australian skills shortage. These types of investments are helping to make Australia a world leader not only in production, but in oil and gas talent and expertise as well,” said Mr Heintzelman.

“By establishing the GE Skills Development Centre, we are helping our customers in the region provide essential training to increase the productivity of their workforces,” said Mr Sargent. ”We are committed to training more than 300 people a year at the centre, delivering accredited training programs locally that otherwise would have been available only offshore. This means that our employees and our customers’ employees are gaining transferrable skills that will follow them wherever they work.”

The centre will provide training across a range of sectors in which GE works, including oil and gas, healthcare, power generation, mining and transportation. It features classrooms and an experimental workshop that provides students with a hands-on learning environment.

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The centre is the result of collaboration among industry associations, government and leading businesses to create a “community of technical best practices” for the oil and gas industry. Companies involved included Chevron, Woodside, Conoco Phillips and Navitas. LNG’s environmental and economic benefits are driving a growing global demand, with Australia expected to be one of the largest LNG exporters in the world by 2020.

Australia faces a critical shortage of trained, skilled workers in the resources sector to meet this demand. The government has forecast that around 70,000 skilled jobs need to be created in Western Australia alone to meet the demands of that sector.