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News Service 74 – Apprenticeships up but growing skills gap, Job ads up, Workers not using all skills at work, Attracting VET Practitioners, ESI Training Package Feedback, Safety news, electrical incidents & shocks, National Asbestos week, Industry news

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1. TRADE APPRENTICESHIPS HIT ALL-TIME HIGH, BUT AUSSIE BUSINESSES STILL FACE A GROWING SKILLS GAP

Reporter Stephanie Palmer-Derrien in the latest SmartCompany newsletter of 19 November 2021, raises questions about the Government’s messaging, stating, the “message feels somewhat disconnected from the growing tech talent gap, and the plight of small businesses and startups struggling to find staff”, whilst at the same time, “federal ministers are celebrating an uptick in apprenticeships and promising low unemployment rates.”

Stephanie writes, “The number of Aussies in in-training apprenticeships and traineeships hit 347,266 in June 2021, that’s up from 268,215 from June 2020.  In-training trade apprenticeships reached a record high of 217,400 in July 2021.” 

This is a good sign as numbers of apprentices and trainees in-training get closer to the all-time high of September 2013, of 412,595 (ref. Senate Education and Employment Legislation Committee – Estimates, 28 Oct 2021).

“Minister for employment, workforce and skills Stuart Robert puts this squarely down to the government’s apprenticeship wage support program, first introduced in October 2020 and expanded earlier this year.

As the economy starts to recover post-pandemic, “this is a once in a generation opportunity for Aussies to get into a career that will last a lifetime”, Robert said in a statement.

“We will look back at this period as critical in securing Australia’s workforce.”

The article also highlights the comments of the Treasurer, Hon Josh Frydenberg MP, who “suggested the government is striving for a Menzies-style model of ‘full employment’, that is, keeping the unemployment rate sustained at below 5%.” …

“Frydenberg’s speech follows Morrison’s promise of the creation of 280,000 jobs ahead of the Christmas period. But while the jobs may be there, we don’t necessarily have the skilled workers to fill them.

A report from Amazon Web Services and Alphabeta found Australia will require some 6.5 million digital workers by 2025 to meet the demand for tech skills — that’s 79% more than we have today.”

READ MORE HERE


2. NSC – JOB ADS JUMP FOR HOSPITALITY WORKERS, LABOURERS AS VACANCIES REACH 13-YEAR HIGH

National Skills Commission’s (NSC’s) October 2021, Internet Vacancy Index (IVI) shows a rise in online job advertisements during October 2021.  The media release posted 17 November 2021, states, “The strongest increase was observed for Community and Personal Service Workers (24.3% or 5,200 job advertisements), which is the largest monthly growth for this occupation group ever recorded in the 15-year history of the IVI. Strong growth was also observed for Labourers (18.6% or 3,300 job advertisements).

Over half (60.9%) the total growth in Community and Personal Service Workers recruitment activity over the month was accounted for by job advertisements for Hospitality Workers.”

Notably it reports that, “The largest growth in job advertisements by detailed occupation was seen in:

  • Hospitality Workers – up by 2,900 jobs (or 45.1%)
  • General-Inquiry Clerks, Call Centre Workers and Receptionists – up by 1,700 jobs (or 9.8%)
  • Food Preparation Assistants – up by 1,300 jobs (or 68.9%)
  • Food Trades Workers – up by 1,100 jobs (or 19.0%)
  • Carers and Aides – up by 1,100 jobs (or 10.7%)

Total advertisements increased 7.8% (18,100 job advertisements) in October 2021 to stand at 250,900. This represents the second consecutive month of increasing recruitment activity nationally, as job advertisement levels reach a 13-year high.”

READ MORE HERE

Or download the October 2021 Vacancy Report detailed results, which are available at:  Labour Market Information Portal (LMIP).


3. SKILLS UTILISATION IN THE WORKPLACE – THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COIN (NCVER)

In its latest Skills utilisation in the workplace – the other side of the coin publication by NCVER, authors Tabatha Griffin, Kristen Osborne, Patrick Lim and Jan Kabátek report on their investigation of skill underutilisation in Australian workers.  The authors examined patterns of over-skilling and over-qualification and the pathways of people into jobs where they are over-skilled.  The research found “that around 19% of workers report that they are not using all their skills at work.  Around 35% of workers are over-qualified, potentially contributing to this level of skill underutilisation.”

The report also found, “that while employers value the concept of skills usage, there are higher priorities, such as skills development.”  The research activity focused on two industry sectors: manufacturing, and early childhood education and care. It also examined what businesses were doing, if anything, to maximise skill usage.

Key messages from the report were:

  • Around 19% of Australian workers report that they are not using all of their skills at work. About 35% of workers are overqualified, potentially contributing to this level of skill underutilisation.
  • The likelihood and perceived importance of skills utilisation appears dependent on the type of job held. High-skilled, complex jobs provide more opportunity for workers to draw on a broader range of their skills than low-skilled jobs.
  • Employers in the early childhood education and care sector believed that all employees were using their skills. Analysis of HILDA data, however, showed that around 16% of workers in selected occupations from that sector reported they were not using all of their skills.
  • Employers in the manufacturing sector were less confident that employees were using all of their skills, depending on the specific occupations considered. The HILDA Survey shows that around 14% of workers in selected manufacturing occupations report that they are not using all of their skills, with the highest level being metal engineering process workers (31.3%).
  • Employers believe that skills utilisation is important for staff satisfaction and retention, but there were very few formal mechanisms in place in the case study organisations for understanding workers’ skills and ensuring their optimal usage. Where mechanisms were used, they tended to be aimed at understanding skills needs, rather than ensuring skills utilisation.
  • Employers were unsure whether support from government (or other bodies) would help them to be more active in utilising the skills of their employees. There was no sense that the lack of such support was the reason why these organisations were not addressing skills utilisation more actively. Instead, most turned the conversation towards skills development, including interest in financial support for training, which they see as higher priority.

READ MORE HERE


4. ATTRACTING INDUSTRY EXPERTS TO BECOME VET PRACTITIONERS (NCVER)

With a growing and at the same time aging workforce in the VET practitioner profession, along comes a timely webinar that explores the opportunities and problems associated with attracting existing workers become VET practitioners.  The webinar promoted in NCVER News of 17 November 2021, states, “Many countries, including Australia, are experiencing a shortage of VET teachers, trainers and assessors. Industry experts are best placed to help address this, but how do we support them to become VET practitioners?

If you are interested, join the “FREE webinar on Wednesday, 8 December 2021 at 2pm ACDT where we will discuss how training organisations can recruit and retain industry experts based on the findings of a NCVER research report*, released tomorrow 18 November.”

On the panel are several well-known luminaries in the field of VET and one not to be missed.  These include:

  • Dr Darryl Dymock and Dr Mark Tyler from Griffith University
  • Mr Ian Curry from the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union
  • Ms Michelle Circelli from NCVER

MORE INFORMATION AND REGISTER NOW!

The *report was released in 18th November 2021 and can be downloaded from the following link: ‘Attracting industry experts to become VET practitioners: a journey, not a destination’

The speakers, Darryl Dymock and Mark Tyler of Griffith University will discuss the findings of the report.


5. UET TRANSMISSION, DISTRIBUTION AND RAIL SECTOR TRAINING PACKAGE CONSULTATION

The Australian Industry Standards (AIS) advises that the ESI Transmission, Distribution and Rail Training Package IRC and its Training advisory Committee (TAC) is seeking feedback on materials for the Power and Networks Systems project.  “The TAC has reviewed and updated six existing qualifications and 104 Units of Competency. In addition, it has drafted two new units which address the skills and knowledge required to safely maintain energised rail traction networks, and the design and interface of distributed energy resources with electricity networks.”

The TAC has recommended a merger and deletion of 34 Units of Competency and 3 qualifications to streamline and reduce duplication to better reflect industry needs. The “Information for Public Consultation” document provides the rationale for the proposed deletions and the additional two new draft Units.

To view the draft Qualifications, Units of Competency, Mapping Attachments and the UET Information for Public Consultation Documents, please click below.

VIEW DRAFT MATERIALS

Feedback to be submitted by close of business Friday, 14 January 2022.

SUBMIT YOUR FEEDBACK

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


6. ESI GENERATION TRAINING PACKAGE CONSULTATION

Australian Industry Standards (AIS) has advised that the ESI Generation Industry Reference Committee (IRC) has amended drafted Training Package materials for the Wind Power Generation project.  The materials cover Wind Power Generation is one of the growing renewable energy industries helping Australia to lower its carbon footprint, whilst creating jobs.

The Certificate IV in Large Scale Wind Generation – Electrical qualification and 4 associated Units of Competency have been amended by the IRC.  Feedback is sought on the developed materials.

VIEW DRAFT MATERIALS HERE

Submit your feedback by close of business Monday, 29 November 2021.

SUBMIT FEEDBACK HERE

For more information on this project, please contact the Industry Skills Specialist, Shaun Thomas: M: 0409 505 196 | E: shaun.thomas@aistnds.org.au


7. NEW COMPLIANCE CODE – FIRST AID IN THE WORKPLACE

WorkSafe Victoria has advised through it HSR Newsletter of 18 November 2021, that it WorkSafe has just released an updated version of the First Aid in the Workplace Compliance Code.  The code offers practical guidance for employers to ensure they are complying with their duty to provide a safe workplace.  The guide is also helpful to Health and Safety Reps for any consultation discussions with their employer around workplace first aid.

The article states, “It replaces the 2008 code, with updates including recommendations to consider adding asthma-relieving inhalers and epinephrine auto-injectors (Epipens) to first aid kits and to consider training for first aid officers to assist people experiencing a mental health crisis.

It also provides information on providing adequate first aid room facilities, assessing first aid needs and ensuring training remains up-to-date.

This compliance code (‘code’) provides practical guidance for those who have duties under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (‘OHS Act’) and the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017 (‘OHS Regulations’). The code was developed by WorkSafe Victoria (‘WorkSafe’) in consultation with employer and employee representatives.”

READ MORE HERE

DOWNLOAD A COPY OF THE COMPLIANCE CODE – FIRST AID IN THE WORKPLACE HERE


8. PREVENTING ELECTRIC SHOCKS TO ELECTRICIANS

WorkSafe Victoria is also issue a timely reminder to electricians following the tragic death of a 40-year-old licenced electrical worker.  It is urging electricians to ensure they carry out safe isolation when working in the vicinity of live electrical equipment.

Requirements under the OHS Act also require employers and persons who manage or control a workplace to ensure risks to others, other than employees, are eliminated or reduced.

Where electrical work is also construction work, employers and self-employed persons have additional duties, including:

  • preparing and following Safe Work Method Statements (SWMS), for work that is high risk construction work (HRCW)
  • construction induction training
  • site specific inductions

The electrical regulator requires all electrical circuits or electrical equipment handled during electrical work be disconnected from the electricity supply, unless adequate precautions are taken to prevent electric shock or other injury.

Controlling electric shock risk should include:

  1. De-energising the installation, or part of the installation
  2. Using appropriate signage
  3. Verifying the installation is de-energised
  4. Using safe systems of work
  5. Consideration to other risks such as falls from height, excessive heat, dust, biological hazards (vermin, insects, moulds).

For more information visit: PREVENTING ELECTRIC SHOCKS


9. ELECTRICAL SAFETY INCIDENTS – SHARING THE KNOWLEDGE

The NSW UE ITAB has again been fortunate to have another employer support the sharing of their electrical safety incident for educational purposes. Jared Barclay, Electrical Compliance Officer at Alstom Australia Pty Ltd has been kind enough to provide details of an electrical incident to help share and develop industry knowledge of what may have given rise to an electrical shock incident. 

The incident in question relates to a reported electric shock received by a worker from a rail corridor structure.  A copy of the incident event can be downloaded HERE.

The work involved a team of 3 Signaling technicians commenced Night shift and their planned scope of works was to perform Points Maintenance tasks at Macquarie Park MQP11 & Switch Blade adjustments and Lubrication of claw locks on MQP21.

Technician 1 had just completed tensioning the bolts on the Operation Bar shown. Whilst still kneeling the Technician’s left arm was resting on the rail and his Right arm contacted the Fish plate that led to the Technician receiving an Electric Shock.

The aim of circulating the incident report, is to help RTOs and industry practitioners have available, real-world electrical incident cases that occur in workplaces that they can showcase in their training programs or safety moments to highlight findings and how responses are actioned to occurring events.

The NSW UE ITAB, sincerely thanks Alstom for their permission, and advises RTOs and industry practitioners to ensure they recognise attribution to Alstom for sharing this information and treat the information for educational purposes only.  As we receive incident reports, we will continue to share them accordingly.

For more information contact Jared Barclay, Electrical Compliance Officer at Alstom by contacting the undersigned for more information and details.  Again, a sincere thanks to Alstom.


10. NATIONAL ASBESTOS AWARENESS WEEK 22-28 NOVEMBER 2021

SafeWork NSW promotes National Asbestos Awareness Week, between 22-28 November 2021.  During National Asbestos Awareness Week, SafeWork NSW is asking workers and the public to ‘Think Twice About Asbestos’.

National Asbestos Awareness Week is organised by the Australian Government’s Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency, in partnership with state and territory government agencies and non-government organisations and replaces the National Asbestos Awareness Month funded by the NSW Government which ended in 2018.

Asbestos is in 1 in 3 Australian homes

Danger from asbestos is far from over. It is still present in one in three Australian homes.

In 2021, asbestos still presents a significant danger for anyone working on older houses, as well as public and commercial buildings.

To stay safe at work, follow these simple steps:

  1. Check up – You can stay safe if you know where the asbestos is located, as long as it isn’t disturbed, damaged or deteriorated.  Get the site checked by a licensed asbestos professional.
  2. Gear up – Before starting work, protect yourself with the right personal protective equipment (PPE) including the right mask.  Visit www.respfit.org.au/.
  3. Remove it safely – SafeWork NSW always recommends using a licensed asbestos removalist to remove any amount of asbestos.  If you are going to remove or work with less than 10 sqm of non-friable asbestos yourself, then you should always do so in line with the Code of Practice: How to safely remove asbestos.
  4. Clean up – Leave the site clean and dispose of all asbestos waste at a licensed facility. Fines apply for not doing the right thing.

Every year in Australia, an estimated 4,000 people die from diseases caused by past exposure to asbestos.

You can support National Asbestos Awareness Week by sharing materials from the campaign pack with your networks.

DOWNLOAD THE CAMPAIGN PACK HERE

For more information on staying safe when working with asbestos, watch our series of Asbestos videos on YouTube or visit www.safework.nsw.gov./asbestos.


11. HVACR WOMAN OF THE YEAR AWARD

Editor, Sandra Rossi at Climate Control News (CCN) reports on this year’s HVACR Leadership Award presentations.  Wards were made to:


12. INFINITY CABLE RECALL REMINDER

Queensland’s Electrical Safety Office has issued a reminder in its latest eSafe newsletter of the call to identify Infinity Cable used in electrical installations.  The article states, “Queensland’s recall rate of Infinity cable has reached 77 per cent, however there’s still around 177 kms of cable unaccounted for.

The cable is not compliant with electrical safety standards and will quickly become brittle.  If disturbed, the insulation can crack, causing a risk of fire or electric shock.

Cable installed in areas of elevated heat have an increased likelihood of failing.

This cable was supplied throughout Queensland in 2012–13 by:

  • Masters Home Improvement
  • Mitre 10
  • Home Timber and Hardware
  • HEM Queensland

Woolworths is taking responsibility to fix installations if the cable was purchased from Master Home Improvements.”

READ MORE HERE

More information is available on the Product Safety Australia website


13. ELECTRIC MOTOR TERMINAL COVER CATASTROPHIC FAILURE – SAFETY ALERT #400

The NSW Resources Regulator this week, 19 November 2021, reports in its weekly Mine Safety News (ISR21-45) of a 400kW electric pump motor, which suffered a rapid pressurisation in the motor body resulting in the motor terminal cover catastrophically failing.  The motor was ejected from the terminal box propelling metal fragments approximately 15 metres.

How did it happen?

Resources Safety & Health Queensland, reports that, A drive-end bearing over heated due to a lack of lubrication and possible variable speed drive circulating currents. The temperature rise resulted in an ignition of the bearing grease. This caused a significant pressure rise in the motor which then resulted in the terminal cover fasteners failing and the cover being ejected with significant force. There were no electrical faults and the motor continued to run after the event. …

“Investigations are ongoing and further information may be published as it becomes available. The information in the publication is what is known at the time of writing.”

READ MORE HERE


14. NECA CONTINUES TO CALL FOR GREATER RING-FENCING REGULATIONS

Electrical Connection’s Editor, Sean Carroll reports on NECA’s call for great ring-fencing guidelines.  The article states, “The National Electrical and Communications Association (NECA) has expressed its disappointment by the AER’s updated Ring Fencing Guideline Electricity Distribution

NECA made a submission to the AER when it was reviewing the guidelines, which highlighted the many flaws in the rules.

The AER made some changes which NECA has agreed with, including:

  • Greater scrutiny on breaches incurred by DNSPs by mandating all breaches irrespective of their materiality must be reported within 15 days
  • Increased in the level of reporting of shared arrangements between the DNSP and their RESP
  • Significant reporting obligations on DNSPs when operating the SAPS’s

NECA, in a statement, wrote that these changes are a step in the right direction: “However, the overall updates did not go far enough to address significant problems. …”

READ MORE HERE

The full NEAC submission can be accessed in the article.


15. AER APPOINTED AS REGULATOR OF THE NSW RENEWABLE ENERGY ZONES

The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) has been appointed by the NSW Government to be the regulator for the New South Wales government’s Renewable Energy Zones (REZs), following its appointment today under the Electricity Infrastructure Investment Act 2020 (NSW).

The media release from the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) states, “The AER’s role will centre on Part 5 of the Act where it will be required to make five-year revenue determinations for network infrastructure projects authorised by the independent Consumer Trustee for each REZ.

The AER’s determination will include the calculation of the prudent, efficient and reasonable capital costs of these projects.

Other AER regulatory functions include making annual contribution determinations in relation to the Electricity Infrastructure Fund (Part 7 of the Act), approving a risk management framework developed by the Consumer Trustee (Part 6 of the Act); and reviewing tender rules in relation to long-term energy service agreements (Part 6 of the Act).

READ MORE HERE


16. ERAC OUTLINES REQUIREMENTS FOR MULTIPLE MODE INVERTERS IN STAND-ALONE OPERATION

Sean Carroll, Editor at Electrical Connection news service of 19 November 2021 reports on Electrical Regulatory Authorities Council’s (ERAC’s) explanation of the requirements for multiple mode inverters in a stand-alone operation released in its circular of October 2021. ERAC has noted an increasing number of multiple mode inverters being installed, create the opportunity for many systems to generate a stand-alone AC supply in the event of grid failure or outage.

The article refers to the ERAC notice which, “explains the requirements for those systems to have an earthed reference AC supply, according to clause 5.4.3 of AS/NZS 4777.1:2016.

Many systems require circuit connections to be implemented in Australia and New Zealand, to meet our local electrical requirements. This is generally mentioned in the installation manual of the equipment being installed.”

READ MORE HERE

A copy of the ERAC notice can be downloaded HERE and can also, be accessed in Sean’s article.


17. AUSTRALIA LAUNCHES TRIAL TO SEE IF EV SPARE BATTERY CAN SUPPORT THE GRID

In another interesting article by Sean Carroll, in the same Electrical Connection news service, Sean reports on how the University of Queensland (UQ) has launched a world-first international trial to see if the spare battery capacity in electric vehicles (EV) could be used to support the uptake of renewable energy, support the grid, and even potentially power homes in the future.

The article states, “In a project co-funded by the iMOVE Cooperative Research and an Advance Queensland Industry Research Fellowship, UQ has partnered with analytics platform Teslascope to recruit Tesla owners internationally to take part in the study which will closely look at driving and charging behaviour across the globe.

UQ e-mobility research fellow Dr Jake Whitehead says while EVs are increasingly coming to market with more than 400km driving range, most are only driven less than 50km a day.

“This provides a unique opportunity to leverage this spare energy capacity to absorb renewable energy generated in the middle of the day and overnight, and potentially even export energy to power homes and support the grid in the future using vehicle-to-grid (V2G) chargers,” he says.”

READ MORE HERE


18. NSW CLEARS $3 BILLION HYDROGEN STRATEGY THROUGH PARLIAMENT

The 19 November 2021 RenewEconomy newsletter reports that the NSW parliament has approved NSW government’s hydrogen strategy.  The article written by reporter, Michael Mazengarb, states, “The NSW parliament passed the legislation on Friday, unlocking $70 million in government investment for the creation of two new hydrogen hubs in the Illawarra and Hunter regions, as well as significant exemptions from government fees for green hydrogen producers.” …

“The passage of the NSW hydrogen strategy comes as gas utility Jemena begins blending renewable hydrogen gas into the mains gas network as part of its Western Sydney Hydrogen gas project. The project will trial the mixing of mains gas supplies with 2 per cent hydrogen gas by volume.”

READ MORE HERE

Read the Government’s Media Release here:  H2 Go! NSW open for hydrogen investment


19. AUSTRALIAN SOLAR STANDARD (AS/NZS 5033) REVISED TO SUPPORT GROWING SOLAR INDUSTRY

Standards Australia advises that it has published a revision to AS/NZS 5033:2021, Installation and safety requirements for photovoltaic (PV) arrays.  The article states, “In two decades, almost 4 million solar PV panel systems have been installed across Australia, which has seen a dramatic reduction in overall costs.  The revision aims to support users in meeting compliance requirements and promote consumer safety.” …

“Overall, the revision aims to provide clear and relevant guidance to support safe systems and safe practices for industry professionals and consumers. The standard has been restructured to promote better readability, supporting users in meeting compliance requirements. AS/NZS 5033 is referenced in AS/NZS 3000, commonly known as the Wiring Rules, which is called upon in legislation. Compliance with the requirements of both standards is essential.” …

Australia previously had a limitation of 600V for panels for houses but recently aligned with international requirements of 1000V. Additionally, AS/NZS 5033:2021 also aligns with international standard IEC 62548:2016, Photovoltaic (PV) arrays — Design requirements. “

“Solar is booming worldwide, so it’s important we align with international standards so that the Australian market can use international products and technologies as well,” said EL-042 Co-Chair Sandy Atkins.  

The recently published standard is available at: AS/NZS 5033:2021, Installation and safety requirements for photovoltaic (PV) arrays


20. REGULATING GAS IN A TRANSFORMING ENERGY SYSTEM

EnergyInsider, the weekly joint newsletter of Energy Networks Australia (ENA) and Australian Energy Council (AEC), 18 November 2021 looks at the challenges of the gas transformation currently underway which the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) also canvasses through its information paper, recently published that lays out different regulatory options and tools that might protect the long-term interests of energy customers in a time of uncertainty.

Dr Dennis Van Puyvelde at Energy Networks Australia reports on the economic regulatory framework for gas distribution networks, which was developed when gas was Australia’s fastest growing fuel, with growth expected to be sustained into the future.  Dennis looks at how our decarbonising economy means moving to renewable gas or electrification of gas services, which will decrease gas demand.

Stating, “This poses challenges to the framework.

Gas is changing. Australia’s gas networks have been at the forefront of that through Gas Vision 2050, which advocates replacing natural gas in networks with hydrogen, biomethane or a blend of both. There are also policy drivers that promote electrification, which may be a suitable option in some cases.

As a result, the demand for natural gas is likely to decline in the longer term. Replacing this with hydrogen or biomethane will be subject to technical regulation to ensure ongoing safe operation of the network. However, this will also impact on economic regulation, which currently only covers natural gas”.

READ MORE HERE

For more, contact Dr Dennis Van Puyvelde, Energy Networks Australia