PAUL Lucas (pictured) made his last appearance as Deputy Premier at an Accelerated Skilling Hubs conference aimed at rapidly skilling workers in the resources industry and getting people into jobs in time for the boom in 2014.

Treasurer Andrew Fraser was sworn in as Anna Bligh’s deputy. Fraser turned 35 yesterday and received a glowing complement by the Premier, saying he is one of the brightest on Queensland's political landscape

While Minister Paul Lucas ducked reporters at the skilling event, he took to the stage in his last official role as deputy to say the mining industry is a ‘very desirable industry’.

The Accelerated Skilling Hubs (ASH) will harness serious gaming technologies, simulation techniques and automation to rapidly skill workers in a ‘centre for excellence’ environment, which can be located regionally, or in any major capital city.

“In the past, we’ve taken significant advantage of migration in Australia, in terms of skill sets, we do want more migrants in this country - the average migrant is younger than the age of the average person in Australia and they will add to our economic development,” says Lucas.

“Our first obligation though is to the people who own companies to make sure they’re participating fully. There are a couple of reasons I make that point, the first is to have rural communities participating and integrated into what the mining industry is, the best way to have someone supporting the mining industry is when they or their kids have a job in it.

“The best way for indigenous Australians to support the exploitation of resources on their traditional land, is for them to have something meaningful as part of it – jobs, security and the like.”

Lucas highlighted the need to continue improving producing in the mining industry.

“There are a couple of ways we can deal with productivity issues, one is to reduce everyone’s wages – we’re never going to be able to compete with Asia or anywhere else in the world in terms of reduced wages and I don’t suspect anyone wants to have their wages cut,” he says.

“I don’t want to take a pay cut, although I will take one as I’m stepping down as deputy premier, but that’s neither here nor there - I don’t believe that’s people want. Another way is more efficient work - practices, which is legitimate and the third way, is greater efficiency of capital.

“I’m an enormous fan of online training – you can better assess someone’s strengths and weaknesses in proper online training and assessment. Another important aspect is safety.”

The Skills Centre developed ASH on the premise of exploring a Silicon Valley model and CEO Derek Hunter says the hubs have the capability to completely redefine and radically transform how people are skilled for the industry.

“This concept is the first of its kind – a completely new use of the latest technologies and we’re confident it will redefine and improve skills in the resources workforce at an accelerated rate. This is the training for the future,” he says.

“From the induction process all the way through to specialised training for managerial and senior expertise roles, ASH is a solution to a global problem and addresses safety and productivity.

“We are confident that as the evolutionary approach of embracing technology in training facilities continues, we will have a world class model.”

ASH has potential for global application and has already received interest from mining reps in Chile, Papua New Guinea and India. While a first site is yet to be confirmed, Hunter says it will come down to demand from the mining heavyweights.

“ASH was developed following consultation from the key players in our industry and they called out for an approach like this. Where we place the first hub will depend on where the demand is coming from and right now, that could be in Queensland or it could be abroad,” says Hunter.

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