Over the past two years, the Northern Territory Government, with the help of ICN NT, has embarked on a major capability mapping project focusing on supply chains in four key industries.
Defence construction was the first supply chain mapped, followed by maritime services supply (naval vessels and offshore supply boats), aquaculture (largely around the Project Sea Dragon commercial prawn farm) and now the mining industry, primarily in central Australia.
ICN NT Consultant, Daniel McCormick said the idea was to be able to influence major projects in their design and feasibility stage.
‘This will allow us to inform them about what exists and what doesn’t. This means they can structure packages in certain ways so that when projects go ahead they are of a manageable size,’ Daniel said.
‘It also means the government and major project owners know what is not here, so they can choose to attract external investment or encourage joint ventures to fill the gaps. But the first point is to let them know what already exists in the Territory.’
‘Given the potential economic impacts of these projects and the current economic climate within the Northern Territory, it is important that businesses and individuals have the appropriate skills, capabilities and knowledge to enable them to benefit from the opportunities associated with each of these projects,’ Daniel said.
‘To achieve maximum local content at a contractual, supplier and both the project owners and supporting industries need to understand the likely work associated with each phase of the project.
The supply chain mapping work means speaking with project teams to determine what might be required to build. This gives the proponent a good insight in to what local industry looks like so they can maximise local content through the unbundling of work packages suitable for industry in the region.
‘A gaps analysis can then be conducted based on likely or proposed packages of work to understand what the opportunities are, what the capabilities are and thus identify the resulting industry shortfalls in order to provide advice,’ Daniel said.
‘This information will help form a series of recommendations to bridge the identified gaps. These may include commentary on the size of work packages in relation to local industry, commentary on potential of joint venture opportunities, training pathways, programs, indigenous engagement, skilling and social development opportunities.’
Previous capability mapping projects have resulted in large documents that include a complete analysis of the depth of that supply chain in the territory - where they are, how many employees they have, what their turnover is - which then informs what size packages they could handle.
Using the example of facility services, Daniel explained that one company will probably win the major work package, but they will subcontract to other suppliers for heating and cooling, catering, fit-outs and more.
This mapping project allows ICN NT and the Northern Government to know what is out there, the government will have the evidence to compel them to hire local for the smaller packages.
Meanwhile, the work ICN NT is doing goes beyond mapping current skills and allows the government and project proponents to identify gaps at an industry level.
For example, ICN NT worked with the Industry Skills Advisory Council (ISAC) on the mapping project for the maritime supply chain.
‘ICN NT mapped skills, found gaps and provided the information back to ISAC, in order for them to look at what is required at an employee level when it comes to skills gaps,’ Daniel said.
‘Then they are passing on information to the Northern Territory Government to do skills prioritisation for immigration, for example; and passing on to RTOs so they know what to train people in now that will be applicable in three to four years.
‘It’s about ICN using the information we can gather, and the relationships we have, to inform complete supply chains to influence what is being trained at high schools and universities to bridge the gap.
‘We finished the maritime project last year, and the vessels don’t arrive till 2022, so we have given the government and businesses four years to make adjustments, to invest and to do what they need to do to be ready for these vessels to start arriving.
ICN NT is currently finalising a Mining, Equipment, Technology Services (METS) exercise and then commences mapping the NT Aviation Services and Supply sector.