News Service 73 – Huge lineworker & electrician skill shortages, duplicate e-assessment competency – TAE, gov responds MRA, summer skills, apprentices, careers NSW pilot, ESI TD&D validation, survey, VET professionals declare, industry & safety news

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1. HUGE SKILL SHORTAGES EXPECTED IN LINEWORKER AND ELECTRICIAN JOBS TO 2023

The Australian Government recently released the ‘Infrastructure workforce and skills supply report’, October 2021, showing major shortages in many occupations of the projected workforce required for public infrastructure to 2023.  The report’s projections show that at its projected peak in 2023, the infrastructure workforce will be 48% short of demand, a deficit of 93,000 people.

It states, “An estimated 182,000 individuals are currently engaged in the delivery of public infrastructure across Australia. This includes an estimated 25,000 project management professionals, 43,000 engineers, scientists and architects, 49,000 structures and civil trades and labourers and 65,000 finishing trades and labourers.

79% of the engaged workforce are in New South Wales, Victoria or Queensland, and 78% of the construction workforce are in major cities creating challenges for regional labour markets.”

Coupled with the NSW Government’s Electricity Strategy encompassing the ‘Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap’, which aims to transform the electricity system into one that is cheap, clean and reliable, then this strategy will require thousands of workers too.  Key Roadmap actions include:

– Renewable Energy Zones (REZs),

– Transmission development scheme,

– Electricity Infrastructure Investment Safeguard,

– Pumped Hydro Recoverable Grants Program, and

– Internationally competitive NSW industries.

The planned activities are expected to generate an expected 6,300 construction jobs and 2,800 ongoing jobs mostly in regional NSW in 2030.

Beyond direct construction and ongoing jobs, lower energy prices under the ‘Roadmap’ will increase household disposable income and business investment which is forecast to support a net increase of 23,600 jobs over the NSW economy in the period 2032 to 2037.

A point to note is, the finishing trades which include apprenticeships of Electrical and HVAC in NSW, have been in the top 10 apprenticeship and traineeship numbers for the past 10 years, with NSW training 1 in every 3 apprentices in the country.  But yet there is still a shortage of theses trades in the market. 

The industry has also known for some time there is an emerging major issue with lineworker numbers, which has now shown up too in the national report (refer figure 2: Current state shortages access the infrastructure sector).  As well there is growing demand for electricians in the Renewable Energy Sector; HVAC technicians in greenhouse emissions replacement and control; and telco-data communications cablers and service technicians in infrastructure, security and fire protection sectors.

These anticipated major skill shortages have been communicated to state and federal governments for more than a decade.  Utilities and Electrotechnology apprenticeship numbers in real nominal terms, as a ratio of the economy and workforce, have not met demand, and whilst the Government’s new announcement to support completion rates through incentives is useful, it is not enough.

There simply is not enough in the pool of apprentices needed for the future workload to expand, and at the same time rewire Australia.  The NSW Government has recognised this major issue and has announced it will appoint an “Electricity Infrastructure Jobs Advocate

An Electricity Infrastructure Jobs Advocate is being appointed by the Minister for Energy and Environment to provide expert advice on how to maximise opportunities for local workers and export infrastructure during the implementation of the Roadmap.

The Jobs Advocate’s purpose is to advise the Minister for Energy and Environment on:

  • strategies and incentives to encourage investment, development, workforce development, employment, education and training in the energy sector in the Hunter and Central Coast, Illawarra, Far West and Central West regions of New South Wales
  • road, rail and port infrastructure required in the regions specified above to promote export opportunities for generation, storage and network technology.”

Visit for more information: ENTITIES DELIVERING THE ELECTRICITY ROADMAP IN NSW

These simple two reports are a clarion call for urgent action.  Governments’ must hasten their attention to urgently raising the number of Utilities and Electrotechnology apprentices in training, in order to meet the near-term and longer-term demand.  Government must enter into urgent dialogue with industry stakeholders to develop immediate action plans that increase the engagement and employment of career aspirants into the Utilities and Electrotechnology industry.

A failure to act swiftly has downstream consequences, as prospective service employees needed after the priority trades have completed their work of building civil, construction and industrial projects as well as rewiring Australia, will be retarded from gaining employment at a time when the economy is close to recession and unemployment numbers are static or declining caused by the impact of COVID-19.  The future of Australia’s economy is in the hands of policy makes armed with the responsibility to initiate action to skill up Australians, especially for young Australians, for the progress and wellbeing of the country and its peoples.

There must be action, action, action…


2. TAE REVIEW – IS A DUPLICATE E-ASSESSMENT UNIT OF COMPETENCY NEEDED?

Alan Maguire at On Target Work Skills, in the latest news service of 13 November 2021, questions the Education IRC’s proposal to create a new TAEASS404 Conduct e-assessment of competence unit of competency.  Alan quite rightly points out that use of e-assessment is increasing rapidly in the VET sector in Australia, and was recognised long ago (2011) when e-assessment practices, resources and materials in the assessment process where identified and encapsulated in a Guide titled, “E-ASSESSMENT GUIDELINES FOR THE VET SECTOR”, produced on behalf of the National Quality Council and the Australian Flexible Learning Framework.

The article states, the Guide, “used the elements of the TAEASS402A Assess competence unit of competency to identify the application of technology”, and “explains how e-assessment can comply with the principles of assessment”.

Alan is of the opinion that, “Using technology to support assessment processes and activities is not new. The current TAE Training Package released in 2016, and the previous TAE10 Training Package, have been developed with consideration of technology being used when conducting assessments. The only difference between now and ten years ago is that technology …”

Have you had your say on whether the Education IRC’s proposal should be adopted, modified or the idea of a duplicate proposed TAEASS404 Conduct e-assessment of competence unit of competency scrapped – EDUCATION TAE

READ MORE OF ALAN’S PERTINENT COMMENTS AND FEEDBACK TO THE REVIEW HERE


3. GOVERNMENT RESPONDS TO THE MUTUAL RECOGNITION (NSW) AMENDMENT BILL

Readers may recall the NSW Legislative Council’s Portfolio Committee No. 1 – Premier and Finance undertook an inquiry in March-April of 2021 regarding the proposed Mutual Recognition (New South Wales) Amendment Bill 2021.  The proposed amendment to the Mutual Recognition (New South Wales) Act proposed the introduction in New South Wales of the national Automatic Mutual Recognition scheme (AMR scheme) for occupational registrations between states and territories in Australia. 

Whilst the Committee’s inquiry into the bill was underway, the national AMR scheme was legislated by the Commonwealth Parliament.

The Committee’s submitted its report in June 2021.  The report outlined a series of findings and two key recommendations.

The Government has now, 9 November 202, formally responded to the Committee’s report.  The Treasurer and Minister for Energy and Environment, the Hon. Matt Kean MP issued the formal response

A significant action arising from the Committee’s work was that the Government, the Treasurer, signed the Automatic Mutual Recognition (New South Wales) (Temporary Exemption – Various) Declaration 2021 under the Mutual Recognition Act 1992 (MR Act) of the Commonwealth on 29 June 20121.  “The instrument provided a temporary exemption, to 30 June 2022, for various occupation registrations from the automatic deemed registration provisions of the MR Act.

The twelve-month temporary exemption will allow the NSW Government to undertake comprehensive consultation to address the concerns raised by stakeholders.  At the end of the consultation, occupational licences will either be transitioned into the scheme or, where a significant risk still exists, a longer-term five-year exemption under s425 of the MR Act will be provided.”

A copy of the Government’s response to each of the two recommendations is attached and available at:  GOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO REPORT MUTUAL RECOGNITION AMENDMENT BILL INQUIRY

Access the Mutual Recognition (New South Wales) Amendment Bill 2021: HERE


4. SUMMER SKILLS IS HERE AGAIN – GET A HEAD START IN-DEMAND INDUSTRIES

The NSW Government is again supporting and sponsoring fee-free short courses for those aged 16-24, known as the Summer Skills program.  Promotion for the program states, “Boost your skills this summer! Get job-ready skills for a variety of in-demand industries.”

Applicants can be qualified to work in a range of booming industries.  Stating, “With the economy opening up, get the training you need to work in vibrant growth sectors such as hospitality, construction and agriculture.”  There are many courses in many locations offered by TAFE NSW or private providers.  For example, there is a Statement of Attainment in Electrotechnology available that provides applicants with training in applying work health and safety regulations, codes and practices in the workplace; developing, entering and verifying discrete control programs for programmable controllers; providing solutions to extra-low voltage (ELV) electro-pneumatic control systems and drives, (NTIS ID: SG00008922).

Participants need to register by 31 December 2021.  Courses should be completed by 30 April 2022.

To be eligible applicants must be aged 16-24 and have left school, and be living or working in NSW (Australian/New Zealand citizen or humanitarian visa holder).

Explore the range of courses available: HERE


5. TAFETALKS APPRENTICESHIP WEBINAR – 17 NOV

TAFE Directors Australia (TDA) will be holding a free webinar on innovation in apprenticeship on Wednesday, 17 November 2021 at 2.00pm.

Apprenticeships Part 1: Innovation, Collaboration and Acceleration is the first part of a two-part series on apprenticeships.  Part 1, on 17 November focuses on innovation in apprenticeships including industry-led proposed acceleration in the mining industry. This session will highlight the importance of collaboration with TAFEs for successful outcomes.  

The second session, on 1 December will focus on apprenticeships as a career and what support is needed for students to successfully complete an apprenticeship.

Guest speakers are

  • Dr Gavin Lind, CEO of the Australian Minerals and Energy Skills Alliance (AUSMESA).
  • Ms Michelle Hoad, Managing Director of North Metropolitan TAFE in Western Australia

REGISTER HEREWednesday, 17 November 2021 at 2.00pm


6. CAREERS NSW PILOT PROGRAM LAUNCHED

The NSW Department of Education, in partnership with the NSW Department of Customer Service and Service NSW, has issued a press release announcing the official launch of the Careers NSW pilot program. 

The release states, “Launched by Premier Dominic Perrottet, Minister’s Geoff Lee and Victor Dominello, the Careers NSW pilot program offers NSW residents three key services to set them on a pathway to employment success including:

  • a self-service website for all aspects of careers advice
  • connection with an Industry Expert already working in the industry they’re looking to enter
  • tailored guidance with a professional Career Advisor for residents in four priority regions

Insights from the pilot programs will inform the provision of a full service model for all NSW residents, including careers advice to school students with an expected launch mid-2022.

For further information please see the attached Information pack or visit the website: careers.nsw.gov.au

Two flyers (1. Careers NSW Introduction, and 2. Careers NSW e-flyer) are attached promoting the official launch of the Careers NSW pilot program.

REGISTER AS AN INDUSTRY EXPERT

The program is keen to assemble a list of Industry Experts who are passionate about their job and industry and would like to share their passion and industry insights with Careers NSW customers.  Interested Experts are encouraged to volunteer, by registering as an Industry Expert on the Careers NSW’s website at: careers.nsw.gov.au or contacting the team directly via email: careersnsw@det.nsw.edu.au.

For more information contact the Careers NSW Team at careersnsw@det.nsw.edu.au


7. VALIDATION REQUIRED OF ESI TRANSMISSION, DISTRIBUTION AND RAIL SECTOR TRAINING PACKAGE

Australian Industry Standards (AIS) advise that the ESI Transmission, Distribution and Rail Industry Reference Committee (IRC), via its Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) have considered all stakeholder feedback and revised draft Training Package materials for the Refresher Skills project.

The TAC has reviewed and updated 11 Units of Competency and 18 Skill Sets to incorporate current industry practices and rescue requirements.

Two new Units of Competency have been developed, based on Energy Networks Australia (ENA) Guidelines for working with overhead and underground energised live low voltage electrical apparatus.

The ESI Transmission, Distribution and Rail IRC is seeking your feedback to validate these draft materials to ensure the proposed products meet industry needs.

Detailed mapping information, tracking changes to the existing Training Package is also available to view. To view the draft Units of Competency, Skill Sets and Mapping Attachments Document please click below:

VIEW DRAFT MATERIALS

SUBMIT YOUR FEEDBACK

Please submit your feedback by close of business Wednesday, 24 November 2021.

For more information on this project, please contact the Industry Skills Manager, Erin Knudsen: M: 0418 434 302 | E: erin.knudsen@aistnds.org.au 


8. INDUSTRY SKILLS SURVEY AND CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS

AIS is inviting responses from industry to our annual Industry Skills Survey about key issues affecting skills and workforce development. We encourage you as key industry stakeholders to participate.

Your input will assist the development of the 2022 Industry Outlooks.

AIS is inviting responses from industry to our annual Industry Skills Survey about key issues affecting skills and workforce development. We encourage you as key industry stakeholders to participate.

Your input will assist the development of the 2022 Industry Outlooks.

The skills surveys aim to build a whole-of-industry picture and will be used to assist in identifying new or emerging skills needs and help inform workforce skills needs for the sectors you represent.

The skills survey can be completed online and should take around 5 to 10 minutes. Industry representatives are also invited to make submissions.

COMPLETE SURVEY

The survey will remain open until close of business on Monday, 20 December 2021.


9. GLOBAL STATEMENT ON THE FUTURE OF PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL EDUCATION AND TRAINING

The World Federation of Colleges and Polytechnics (WFCP) launched its first ever ‘Global Statement’, 11 November 2021, calling on all professional and technical education and training institutions around the world to coordinate an education, training and skills offer that speeds up economic and social recovery following the Covid-19 pandemic.

The media release states, “The statement was launched at the TKNIKA International VET Congress in San Sebastián, Spain on Thursday 11th November by WFCP President Dawn Ward to over 1000 vocational and technical education professionals from around the world.

The statement highlights the importance of professional, technical and vocational training in reshaping economies and ensuring that a post pandemic global landscape has the requisite skills, knowledge and competencies to rebuild the global economy increasing its resilience for the future.”

A copy of the statement is attached and available at:  WFCP LAUNCHES GLOBAL STATEMENT ON FUTURE OF PTET


10. FREE ELECTRIC INCIDENT INVESTIGATION WEBINAR

Want to learn more about electric incident investigation?  Chris Halliday from PowerLogic will present via a free webinar, the latest issues confronting the industry around electric incident investigation.  The session with be followed by a Q&A session.

The webinar will be held on Tuesday, 30 November 2021 at 03:00 PM and will look at:

  • The investigation process and traps for the inexperienced.
  • Tools that assist with investigations.
  • Industry misconceptions.

Chris is the leading trainer of electric shock investigations in Australia, and he has trained thousands.  PowerLogic provides initial and refresher training for Australia and beyond via online, webinar and in-house training.

To register a spot for the event book now as there are limited places:  REGISTER FOR ELECTRIC INCIDENT INVESTIGATION WEBINAR


11. MANAGING THE RISKS OF WORKING IN HEAT

The NSW Resources Regulator in its latest Mine Safety News, 11 November 2021, has issued a reminder about working in the heat.  The article refers to Safe Work Australia’s latest update of its guidance material on managing the risks of working in heat.

It notes that the guide (updated October 2021) provides practical information to manage the risks associated with working in heat, including information on first aid for heat-related illnesses, which reflects updated medical advice.

Download the guide and access more information on working in heat via the Safe Work website: DOWNLOAD GUIDE HERE

Visit the Safe Work Australia website for more information:  www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/safety-topic/hazards/working-heat


12. TELSTRA ENERGY (RETAIL) PTY LTD GRANTED GAS AND ELECTRICITY RETAILER AUTHORISATION

The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) in its latest news of 11 November reports that Telstra Energy (Retail) Pty Ltd has been granted entry into the gas and electricity market.  On 22 October 2021, the AER approved gas and electricity retailer authorisation applications from Telstra Energy (Retail) Pty Ltd (Telstra Energy Retail) under the National Energy Retail Law (Retail Law).

The AER’s website states, “The decision paves the way for Telstra Energy to become a gas and electricity retailer in Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, as well as Tasmania for electricity only.

The AER assessed Telstra’s application against the criteria in the National Energy Retail Law, focussing on Telstra Energy’s organisational, technical and financial capacity, as well as its suitability to hold a retailer authorisation.”

READ MORE HERE


13. STANDARDS AUSTRALIA RELEASES TECHNICAL SPECIFICATION FOR HYBRID PHOTOLUMINESCENT EXIT SIGNS

Editor, Sean Carroll this week reports in Electrical Connection, 12 November 2021 that Standards Australia has released a Technical Specification outlining the performance requirements for Hybrid Photoluminescent Exit Signage – delivering an important practical guide to installers and operators while helping to bring this upcoming technology to the mainstream.  The new Technical Specification is titled, “SA TS 5367:2021 Photoluminescent exit signage – Product specification, installation and operation.”

The article states, “Photoluminescent (PL) Exit Signage is designed to supersede traditional exit signage, which typically features an electric light inside an opaque, box-style housing, supported by a back-up battery in case of loss of electricity.

Facility managers, in particular, have been quick to embrace PL signage technologies in order to avoid time-consuming and costly battery checks and replacements, and to equip buildings with enhanced signage reliability.

PL Exit Signage is popular in” … READ MORE HERE


14. INAUGURAL CENTRAL-WEST ORANA RENEWABLE ENERGY ZONE DECLARED

On Friday 5 November, the Treasurer and Minister for Energy and Environment, the Hon. Matt Kean MP, formally declared the Central-West Orana Renewable Energy Zone (REZ) and it has subsequently been published in the NSW Gazette. 

The Media Release lauding Australia’s first ever REZ states, “The declaration is the first step in formalising the REZ under the Electricity Infrastructure Investment Act 2020. It sets out the intended network capacity (size), geographical area (location) and infrastructure that will make up the REZ. This enables and sets the scope of key legislative functions under the Act, including access schemes and REZ network solutions.”

The Minister said, “Once complete this REZ will provide at least 3,000 megawatts of cheap, reliable electricity, enough to power 1.4 million homes. It will also drive $5.2 billion in private investment into the Central West by 2030, supporting around 3,900 construction jobs.” …

The newly created “Infrastructure Planner, EnergyCo NSW will assess and recommend REZ network infrastructure projects that best suit each community’s needs.”

The email accompanying the media release states, “The declaration follows an assessment of feedback recently received during the draft declaration exhibition period (17 September to 15 October 2021).  All points raised were addressed, and no changes have been made between the draft and (final) declaration order.”

For more information on the declaration and purpose of REZs, visit the Energy NSW website at this WEBPAGE.


15. NEW ELECTRIC BUSES ROLL OUT ON SYDNEY STREETS

ARENAWIRE, a publication of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) released 10 November 2021, reports on a new rollout of zero emissions buses that has begun as part of an ARENA-supported project.

ARENAWIRE, a publication of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) released 10 November 2021, reports on a new rollout of zero emissions buses that has begun as part of an ARENA-supported project.

The article states, “The buses will be charged from a solar array installed on the roof of the Leichhardt depot, storing energy in onboard batteries capable of holding up to ten times as much energy as an electric car.

The buses will be charged from a solar array installed on the roof of the Leichhardt depot, storing energy in onboard batteries capable of holding up to ten times as much energy as an electric car.

Electricity from the solar system installed on the depot’s roof will be stored in a 2.5 MW on-site battery during the day, charging buses overnight through five 120 kW points and thirty one 80kW chargers.

The first 12 buses hit the streets in October, servicing public bus routes in Sydney’s Inner West, the CBD, Mascot and Green Square. An additional 28 buses will be delivered within six months.

The three year trial is led by network operator Transgrid and UK clean energy specialists Zenobe, supported by bus operator Transit Systems and Transport for NSW. …

Proving the technology at scale will be vital to achieve a NSW Government goal of transitioning their fleet of more than 8000 buses to electric by 2030.”

READ MORE HERE


16. ONE PUMPED HYDRO PROJECT STILL STANDING AS SOUTH AUSTRALIA HEADS TO 100PCT WIND AND SOLAR

The RenewEconomy newsletter this week, 12 November 2021, features an article by Giles Parkinson regarding the fate of the grand plans to build big, long storage pumped hydro projects in South Australia associated with the vagaries of Australia’s National Electricity Market. 

Giles writes, “There were six pumped hydro projects seeking finance just a few years ago, all confident of a role in a grid that is leading the world with the uptake of wind and solar and the penetration of rooftop PV, and which is already forcing the local network into negative demand in the midday sun.

South Australia has sourced 62 per cent of its generation from wind and solar in the past 12 months, and has an official target of reaching net 100 per cent renewables by 2030. It will likely reach that mark well before then, but it will need significant amounts of storage to get there.

The pumped hydro projects held great promise, and were backed mostly by companies with deep pockets. But one by one the projects have fallen away.”

READ MORE HERE


17. ARE EVS AN ELECTION BATTLEGROUND?

Energy Networks Australia (ENA) and Australian Energy Council (AEC), in this week’s EnergyInsider, 11 November 2021, raises the spectre if Electrical Vehicles (EVs) will become an election battleground.

The article by Hamish Fitzsimmons reports on Tuesday’s 9 November announcement by the Prime Minister Scott Morrison, of the “Federal Government’s ‘Future Fuels and Vehicles Strategy‘, which commits $250 million to electric vehicle charging infrastructure as part of the push to net zero by 2050.”

The article states, “So will EVs shape up to be an election battleground? …

The expanded ‘Future Fuels Fund’ will focus on four key areas of investment, including:

  • public electric vehicle charging and hydrogen refuelling infrastructure,
  • heavy and long-distance vehicle technologies,
  • commercial fleets, and
  • household smart charging.

The new public charging stations, to be accessible by up to 84 per cent of the population, will help cut transport emissions by more than eight million tonnes by 2035, according to the policy.  It’s almost as if the potential of EVs to end the weekend was forgotten.”

The article takes a deeper dive into the Government’s strategy: READ MORE HERE

For more, contact Hamish Fitzsimmons, Australian Energy Council.