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News Service 13 – 1 June 2020 (letter of concern to AISC UEE11, PM’s JobMaker address, safety)

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News Service this week covers:

  1. NSW UE ITAB FORWARDS LETTER OF CONCERN TO ASIC ON UEE11 REVIEW PROCESS
  2. PRIME MINISTER’S ADDRESS, NATIONAL PRESS CLUB (26 May 2020)
  3. ERAC INFORMATION BULLETIN – EQUIPMENT WITH PLUG PORTIONS (MARCH 2020)
  4. BRITAIN PAYING GENERATORS TO SWITCH OFF?
  5. NEW AMEC RULE: DISTRIBUTION NETWORK CAN SUPPLY CUSTOMERS WITH STAND-ALONE POWER SYSTEMS
  6. ENERGY NETWORK INDUSTRY AWARDS 2020
  7. ELECTRIC SHOCKS IN THE MINING INDUSTRY
  8. NCC 2019 AMENDMENT 1 PROPOSED CHANGES UPDATE

1.     NSW UE ITAB FORWARDS LETTER OF CONCERN TO ASIC ON UEE11 REVIEW PROCESS

Following on from recent reports outlined in this News Service to stakeholders regarding the UEE11 review process, the NSW UE ITAB has forwarded a letter of concern to Emeritus Professor Tracey Horton, AO the Chair of ASIC, regarding the potential for endorsement of the Release 2.0 Electrotechnology Training Package by AISC.  The letter outlines a series of concerns, and questions the credibility of the Case for Endorsement submission.  It questions the veracity of the product when it is known a number of prominent stakeholders believe there are technical defects with the product (specifically a number of qualifications and units of competency and erroneous statements therein), and that not all members of the IRC are in agreement with the final version.

The letter also states, the submission fails to meet the test of transparency and consensus building that produces a product of value to industry and acts as a catalyst for uplifting the skills base to meet modern industry practices.  The ITAB seeks these serious technical defects be corrected before the Package is permitted to proceed to endorsement.

For a copy of the letter click here for your information.  Please feel free to circulate the letter and report your views to Tony and others regarding this matter.

Please feel free to contact Tony Palladino at tony@uensw.com.au if you would like to discuss the matter further.


2.     PRIME MINISTER’S ADDRESS, NATIONAL PRESS CLUB (26 May 2020)

If you were fortunate enough to hear the Prime Minister present his government’s case for improving the skills base of the nation, then you will have learnt much about the agenda the Government is proposing to improve skills and training outcomes in Australia.  The Prime Minister is proposing a better system to improve confidence and “turn out more people with more skills that business need, great.  Because there’s a return on investment.”  If you did not get a chance to listen to the speech a copy is attached – download Prime Minister’s speech.

The proposal centres around more targeted activity-based federal funding, and with the establishment of the new Skills Commission, new skills organisation infrastructure and a commitment to working together with all stakeholders, there is a belief improvements and outcomes can be made.  It is contingent on all parties participating and working towards a common goal.  Only time will tell if the strategy brings forth improvements and better outcomes.

The Prime Minister said in relation to the skills agenda, “I’m very, very interested and very committed to investing more in a better system.”

“We must enable our businesses to earn Australia’s way out of this crisis. And that means focussing on the things that can make their businesses go faster. The skilled labour businesses need to draw on, the affordable and reliable energy they need, the research and technology they can draw on and utilise, the investment capital and finance that they can access, the markets they can connect to, the economic infrastructure that supports and connects them, the amount of government regulation they must comply with, and the amount and the efficiency of the taxes they must pay, in particular whether such taxes encourage them to invest and to employ.

Now that is the change agenda of our JobMaking plan, to enable Australia to emerge from this crisis and set up Australia for economic success over the next three to five years.

Skills, industrial relations, energy and resources, higher education, research and science, open banking, the digital economy, trade, manufacturing, infrastructure and regional development, deregulation and federation reform, a tax system to support jobs and investment.

And today I just want to focus on just two areas – skills and industrial relations.

So on skills, we need Australians better trained for the jobs businesses are looking to create because that’s important.

At a federal level, we are focusing on three key issues.

Firstly, the complexity of a system that is clunky and unresponsive to skills demands. … A funding system marred by inconsistencies and incoherence, with little accountability back to any results. …

Industries defining the quals. …

The National Skills Commission has been established under Adam Boyton’s leadership, and will now provide detailed labour market analysis, including an annual report each year setting out the skill needs of Australia, replacing those existing lists for apprenticeships and skilled migration.

VET funding across all jurisdictions with the exception of Tasmania – has fallen by 25 per cent on average over the past decade in real terms, on a working age per capita basis.

So it’s time to make some changes.

  • Better linking funding to actual forward looking skills needs, based on what businesses need.
  • Simplifying the system, reducing distortions and achieving greater consistency between jurisdictions, and between VET and universities.
  • Increasing funding and transparency and performance monitoring.
  • Taxpayers, students and employers should know where the money is going.
  • And better coordinate the subsidies, loans and other sources of funding, we’ve got to make the valuable support that is provided is going where it needs to go.

Now, our national hospital agreement actually provides a good model for the changes that I would like to advance. Incorporating national efficient pricing and activity based funding models would be a real step forward.

And this is a system I’ve made very clear to Premiers and Chief Ministers that my Government would be prepared to invest more in, but throwing more money into a bad system does not get you results.”

To date its fair to say the assurance of improvements in the system and increased funding pledged in the past have produced few advances or better outcomes. In fact the evidence shows otherwise, with real term funding in Vocational Education and Training (VET) having declined – refer Joyce report, and Prime Minister’s statement above.  It is hope that the new direction and approach will act as a catalyst for change and that real improvements and better outcomes in skills formation and work organisation indeed ensue that lead to improvements in our economy and in turn improved standards of living and quality of life for all Australians.  Again, only time will tell has delivered its agenda?

A number of newspaper opinion pieces have been written around the Prime Minster’s National Press Club Address (copy of the address attached) regarding the proposed new skills reform agenda, which are worth reviewing, provide greater clarity and probe the issues in more detail.  They do not reflect the ITAB’s views, but are included to support understanding of the issues.  Note some newspapers may require payment for subscription, which is unfortunate.  The ITAB does not have any vested interest in supporting or recommending them or take up of subscription – however you already may be a subscriber.  Links are provided for your consideration:


3.     ERAC INFORMATION BULLETIN – EQUIPMENT WITH PLUG PORTIONS (MARCH 2020)

Electrical Regulatory Authorities Council (ERAC) released an Information Bulletin on the requirement for certification of electrical equipment that has plug portions for insertion into socket outlets.  It affirmed that the latest requirements of AS/NZS 3112 Appendix J must be applied.

“That is, irrespective of which version of AS/NZS3112 is applied, the particular equipment safety standard may specify at a minimum, the latest version of AS/NZS3112 in force in AS/NZS 3112 at the time certification is being performed, (taking into account any transition dates listed in AS/NZS3112) must be met.”

For a copy of the Information Bulletin regarding certification of detachable plug portions, go to URL: ERAC Information Bulletin 0024

Note: ERAC also issued two Information Bulletins In December 2019 regarding:

  1. Information Bulletin 0023 – Switches and socket outlets which can be downloaded from the URL: ERAC Information Bulletin 0023
  2. Information Bulletin 0022 – Applicable safety standards and requirements for solar diverters which can be downloaded from the URL: ERAC Information Bulletin 0022

4.     BRITAIN PAYING GENERATORS TO SWITCH OFF?

ENA reports, “The COVID-19 pandemic has cut electricity demand in Great Britain to levels not seen since the Falklands War.”

… “Since February 2020, electricity demand from the grid in Great Britain (GB) has seen a significant decrease following the introduction of social distancing measures and then a full lockdown in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The average demand decrease for a weekday in March was about 13 per cent, while weekends were 11 per cent lower than the new weekday amount”

For more information on this interesting occurrence visit: ELECTRICITY DEMAND DOWN IN GB COVID-19


5.     NEW AMEC RULE: DISTRIBUTION NETWORK CAN SUPPLY CUSTOMERS WITH STAND-ALONE POWER SYSTEMS

AMEC advises that the final report on new the new rules allowing distributors to supply customers with Stand-Alone Power Systems (SAPS) has been released.  The report states, “Distribution network businesses can choose stand-alone power systems to supply customers with power where it is cheaper than maintaining a connection to the grid under new rules”, released 28 May 2020.

“Eligible customers in remote areas will be able to access off-grid energy from their electricity network without losing their consumer protections, retail deals or reliability under new rules devised by the AEMC.

Homes and businesses in bushfire, cyclone or flood-prone areas and weak parts of the grid will also benefit under the rules”.

For more information on the new rule change visit: NEW ENERGY RULES BOOST OPTIONS FOR REMOTE COMMUNITIES


6.     ENERGY NETWORK INDUSTRY AWARDS 2020

ENA advise that the Energy Networks Australia’s 2020 annual awards program will open on 1 July 2020.

There are two awards:

  • The Consumer Engagement Award recognises an Australian energy network business that is demonstrating outstanding leadership in consumer engagement.
  • The Industry Innovation Award recognises leadership in the design, development and application of a ground-breaking Australian energy network initiative, technology, service or solution.

Energy Networks Australia members are invited to apply.

Key dates:

  • Applications open – 1 July 2020
  • Applications close – Tuesday 18 August 2020
  • Shortlisted applicants announced – 4 September 2020
  • Videoconference interview for shortlisted applicants – 10 September 2020
  • Winners announced – October 2020

For more information visit: ENA AWARDS


7.     ELECTRIC SHOCKS IN THE MINING INDUSTRY

The NSW Resources Regulator reports in it latest ‘Mine Safety News – Safety Bulletin’ that five electric shock incidents were notified to the NSW Resources Regulator during April 2020. A further two were notified in May.

It recommends, “Mine operators, and other PCBUs, should review their electrical engineering control plans to ensure that risk controls for electric shock are appropriate for the activities at the mine.

This should include a review of how effectively the risk controls are being implemented. Reference should be made to the Electrical engineering control plan code of practice, which provides guidance in respect to these matters.”

For a copy of the full report and the recommendations for industry to take up visit the website and download the report: SB20-03 Electric shocks in the mining industry

A list of the Safety Bulletins is available at: Safety Bulletins


8.     NCC 2019 AMENDMENT 1 PROPOSED CHANGES UPDATE

The Australian Building Codes Board advises that the National Construction Code (NCC) 2019 Amendment 1, noted that two proposed changes were still to be confirmed. These were:

•     a new defined term, building complexity, that may be used in the future to identify buildings for which additional oversight is appropriate; and

•     a new provision to require that a process be followed to improve the documentation for Performance Solutions.

It states, “The defined term ‘building complexity’ will not be included in NCC 2019 Amendment 1.

The Building Ministers’ Forum (BMF) has determined that the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) publish the definition for building complexity on its website. A consultation period will be open for a six-months, during which time further work will be undertaken by the ABCB on the related regulatory interventions, in consultation with states, territories and industry stakeholders.”

NCC 2019 Amendment 1 will be adopted by the States and Territories from 1 July 2020.  The ABCB will not be issuing an updated preview of NCC 2019 Amendment 1. The final version will be available, via the NCC Suite, from 1 July 2020.

For more information visit the NCC Suite website: ACCESS NCC SUITE


If you would like to contribute to this News Service please feel free to write to the undersigned accordingly.  Thank you.

Kind regards

Tony Palladino

Executive Officer

NSW U&E ITAB

NEW ELECTRICAL SUPPORT WEBSITE: Electrical Safety Project: www.esproject.com.au – provides information about improving electrical Safe Work Practice and exampler Safe Work Procedures (SWPs) for use in training, or adatption by micro-businesses and self-employed in the utilities and electrotechnology industries.

Mob: +61 43739 6363

Tel:     +61 2 9736 2111

Email: tony@uensw.com.au

Postal Add: PO Box 335, Concord, NSW 2137