Fortescue’s VTEC: 10 years of creating opportunities

Oct 3, 2017

171003 VTEC 10 Year Anniversary

Fortescue Metals Group (Fortescue) is proud to celebrate the tenth anniversary of its pioneering Vocational Training and Employment Centre (VTEC) program. 

VTEC, which was established by Fortescue’s Founder and Chairman, Andrew Forrest AO, is based on a simple but compelling idea: after successfully completing training with Fortescue, you are guaranteed a job. 

“When we started VTEC at Fortescue, I was determined it would end the cycle of jobless training once and for all and break down the social barriers that prohibit so many Aboriginal people from gaining employment. We have since seen hundreds of Aboriginal people develop their skills and seize the opportunities Fortescue’s VTEC has provided them,” Mr Forrest said. 

Since the initiative began a decade ago, 774 Aboriginal people have begun employment with Fortescue, while a further 794 Aboriginal people have received driver education and health and literacy support services from VTEC. In 2014, the Federal Government committed to building a national VTEC network, based on Fortescue’s model. 

“It’s been incredibly humbling to see our simple idea get the support of Government, spread across the country and provide job opportunities for a further 7,000 Aboriginal people,” Mr Forrest said. 

“VTEC has been at the heart of our approach to Aboriginal engagement for a decade, as we work to ensure communities benefit from the growth and development of our business,” Fortescue Chief Executive Officer, Nev Power said. 

In 2017, Fortescue’s VTEC celebrated a significant milestone with the graduation of the program’s first all-female class.

“At Fortescue, we believe in providing people with the opportunity to grow professionally and personally and we know how important it is to provide Aboriginal Australians, both men and women, with sustainable career opportunities so they can build a stronger future for themselves and their communities.”

“We are proud to offer a number of training pathways that align with our long-standing belief that the best way to end Aboriginal disadvantage is by providing opportunity through training and employment,” Mr Power said.

Milestones in VTEC’s history


  • Fortescue’s VTEC began in an office in South Hedland Shopping Centre


  • The first 20 Aboriginal people graduated from Fortescue’s VTEC and commenced fulltime employment with the company working on the rail construction project.


  • Fortescue established the Driver Training Program in partnership with the WA Department of Transport. This allowed Fortescue to facilitate testing and provide Learner’s Permits on behalf of the State.


  • As part of the Australian Employment Covenant, Fortescue established ‘Summit 300’, a companywide commitment to train and employ 300 Pilbara Aboriginal people in two years.
  • Fortescue’s Aboriginal Health Program began providing support for VTEC trainees facing health issues such as diabetes.


  • VTEC opened in Roebourne in partnership with Pilbara TAFE, now known as Northern Regional TAFE.


  • Fortescue achieved its ‘Summit 300’ target, successfully securing employment for 300 Aboriginal people.


  • The Federal Government committed to building a national VTEC network, based on Fortescue’s model, and through the centres support 5000 job opportunities for Aboriginal people.
  • VTEC’s Fresh Start was established. A unique prison-to-work program, Fresh Start aims to assist ex-offenders to gain skills, trade qualifications and employment with Fortescue.


  • Federal Government reached its Aboriginal employment target of 5,000 jobs through the VTEC initiative.


  • First all-female VTEC cohort graduates. The nine female trainees from the South Hedland centre began their careers at Fortescue’s Christmas Creek and Solomon operations.