NWDF Case Study: NECA WA

Up-skilling Electrotechnology Workers

It is clearly documented in any number of surveys that the State of Western Australia is currently experiencing a skills shortage which over the next few years will undoubtedly only get worse.  At the very centre of this shortage will be the electrical trades, a trade area that influences all aspects of industry and society as a whole.  Quite apart from the shortage of qualified electrical people in the state there is a further identified skills gap in the level of skills that many electricians have.   A good example is the high level of demand for electricians with instrumentation skills and knowledge.   In all areas of the construction, mining and process industries there is a clear need for people with these skills.  There is a well documented demand for electricians with instrumentation skills to Certificate IV level to work on any number of capital infrastructure projects being built or planned to be built in WA’s North West.

The high level of demand for sustainable energy installations and information on sustainable energy systems is increasing.  The community at large is increasingly expecting representatives of the electrical industry to provide up to date information on products and systems that will guide the consumer in their selection and use of sustainable energy products and processes.  The training provided under NWDF funding allows employers to up-skill their employees to fill this skills gap enabling them to provide in depth guidance to the public on their options in terms of sustainable energy systems.

Given the on-going effects of global warming there is a corresponding increased reliance by the community on air-conditioning.  This is a fact, regardless of the area, be it domestic, commercial and industrial.  Persons skilled in this field are another major skill shortage area where there is a high level of demand for refrigeration fitters or electricians that can undertake refrigeration work.   Clearly, most electricians do not have the required level of skills to perform this work. The availability of gap training through NWDF funding enables many electrical workers to gain skills in refrigeration and undertake the installation of refrigerant air-conditioning systems.

The majority of tender work being let in WA carries a requirement by the tenderer to ensure that his electrical workers possess skills in working in hazardous areas.  Much of this type of work requires the worker to carry skills and accreditation under the “AS NZS 4761.1- Competencies for Working with Electrical Equipment for Hazardous Areas (EEHA)” which is provided through NWDF funded training. Virtually all mining work requires the contractor and their workers to carry this type of accreditation before they can come on site.  Unfortunately, the previous training provided to the electrical apprentice included little of this training and it had to be undertaken as a post trade qualification.

In summary, the NWDF project provides valuable skills gap training to existing employees and up-skill for new workers that enables them to fill a number of positions within the Western Australian workforce. The training concentrates on gap skilling the existing electrical workforce in WA to meet the needs of industry. There is abundant evidence that the traditional electrical worker needs to be more flexible and skilled. The NWDF project meets the increasing demand on existing tradespersons and graduating apprentices to expand their basic skills base to include skills in Instrumentation, sustainable energy, air-conditioning, telecommunications and Hazardous areas.

Project Statistics:
Australian Government       $1,132,300
NECA WA                               $557,700
Total NWDF Investment      $1,690,000