News Service 80 – Labour market update, Jan online ads up, Electro and TDR Training Packages updates, Small Business Month, NSW Women’s Week, Falling revenues HVACR, HBA Review, Electric shock, Safety & Industry news

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1. NSC RELEASES LABOUR MARKET UPDATE FOR DECEMBER 2021 QUARTER

The National Skills Commission (NSC) has released its latest quarterly update on the strength of the labour market, including activity, demand and recruitment difficulty.  The Report states, “The Australian labour market has weathered the impact of the global pandemic reasonably well. While the outbreak of the Delta variant and associated lockdowns had a significant, negative impact on the labour market for much of the second half of 2021, activity has rebounded strongly in recent months, reflected in strong growth in both labour demand and supply.

Consequently:

  • total employment, total hours worked and the employment-to-population ratio are now all at record highs;
  • the participation rate is close to its record high achieved earlier in 2021;
  • the unemployment rate has reached its lowest rate since August 2008;
  • the underemployment rate is now at its lowest rate since November 2008 and;
  • internet job advertisements reached their highest level since 2008 (in November 2021).

Despite the strong recovery at the end 2021, Omicron n poses some uncertainty for the labour market in the short-term.  That said, the RBA has stated ‘while Omicron has delayed the recovery of the Australian economy, it has not derailed it’. Indeed, information from the RBA’s business liaison program suggests demand for workers remains strong, despite the disruptive labour market effects from Omicron.”

READ THE REPORT HERE


2. ONLINE JOB ADS INCREASE STRONGLY IN JANUARY

A further publication from the National Skills Commission (NSC) showing some improvements in the job demand in the economy was released on 16 February 2022.  The Internet Vacancy Index (IVI) preliminary results show, “online job advertisements increased by 4.4% (10,900 job advertisements) in January 2022, to 259,000.

Job advertisements are now at their highest level since September 2008. January recruitment activity increased across five jurisdictions while the remaining three decreased slightly.

  • Western Australia, up by 7.0% (2,000 job ads)
  • Australian Capital Territory, up by 5.3% (370 job ads)
  • Victoria, up by 5.2% (3,300 job ads)
  • Queensland, up by 5.1% (2,500 job ads)
  • New South Wales, up by 4.3% (3,500 job ads)
  • South Australia, down by 0.4% (60 job ads)
  • Tasmania, down by 0.9% (30 job ads)
  • Northern Territory, down by 1.5% (40 job ads)

The level of recruitment activity nationally remains significantly elevated compared to pre-COVID-19 levels*, up by 54.0% (90,900 job ads). This growth is reflected across all jurisdictions, with the strongest gains recorded for Western Australia (up by 85.9%), Tasmania (72.6%) and South Australia (71.6%).”

READ MORE HERE

CLICK HERE FOR THE LATEST INTERNET VACANCY INDEX (IVI) DATA


3. ELECTROTECHNOLOGY TRAINING PACKAGE – VALIDATION

Australian Industry Standards (AIS) writes to advise that Electrotechnology Industry Reference Committee, its Technical Advisory Committees (TACs) are seeking validation of the following projects.

1. ADVANCED DIPLOMA OF ENGINEERING – ELECTRICAL

This project has updated the qualification and developed five new Units of Competency to better reflect the intent of the qualification and address higher-level theoretical concepts more appropriate for the vocational destinations of graduates.

VIEW DRAFT MATERIALS AND SUBMIT FEEDBACK

2. ELECTRICITY METERS

One Unit of Competency and one Skill Set have been updated to reflect current industry requirements and work practices. The draft materials incorporate legislative and safety requirements in the installation of advanced digital meters, and the replacement of older-style basic or accumulation meters.

VIEW DRAFT MATERIALS AND SUBMIT FEEDBACK

3. HAZARDOUS AREAS

This project has updated two qualifications and developed 11 new Units of Competency to reflect AS/NZS4761.1:2018 Competencies for working with Electrical Equipment for Hazardous Areas (EEHA). The Electrotechnology Training Package does not currently cover all clauses contained within the Standard and Industry has requested that the remaining units be adopted. Based on feedback received during the first round of public consultation the prerequisite field of 11 existing Units of Competency has also been amended for consistency with the new units. Nothing else in these existing units has been changed.

VIEW DRAFT MATERIALS AND SUBMIT FEEDBACK

4. RAIL SIGNALLING

The project has updated one qualification and 15 Units of Competency to address the disparity between the qualification outcomes and employers’ skill and knowledge needs. In addition, the TAC has developed three new units and two new Skill Sets, and recommended the deletion of five existing units to reflect contemporary industry practices and systems

VIEW DRAFT MATERIALS AND SUBMIT FEEDBACK

Please submit feedback by close of business Monday, 7 March 2022.

For more information on this project, please contact the Industry Skills Specialist, Paul Humphreys, M: 0429 670 588 | E: paul.humphreys@aistnds.org.au


4. TRANSMISSION, DISTRIBUTION AND RAIL TRAINING PACKAGE RELEASE 3.0

Australian Industry Standards (AIS) advises that the ESI Transmission, Distribution and Rail Industry Reference Committee has submitted the Case for Endorsement and draft Training Package materials for the Transmission Structures project to the Australian Industry and Skills Committee for their consideration.

The proposed materials from the project address priority skills needs for the ESI Transmission, Distribution and Rail Industry.

Transmission Structures:  The materials include updates to the Certificate II in Transmission Line Construction and three Units of Competency to address current work and safety practices and accurately reflect the occupational outcome. In addition, two Units of Competency have been proposed for deletion: UETDRTO003 and UETDRTO014.

VIEW TRANSMISSION STRUCTURES PROJECT PAGE

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


5. REGISTER FOR A NSW SMALL BUSINESS MONTH ACTIVITY

NSW Small Business Month starts Tuesday 1st March 2022. It’s time to get ready and take advantage of all the program has to offer.

If you’re a small business in NSW you can now find activities on NSW Small Business Month website.  From webinars to workshops, podcasts and panel discussions, there’s plenty of activities to choose from.

NSW Small Business Monthly has earmarked the following events already on its website:

It’s time to Rebuild, Recharge and Renew find an activity near you and register today!


6. NSW WOMEN’S WEEK 7-13 MARCH 2022

NSW Women’s Week is back for its fourth year, running from 7-13 March 2022.

It’s a chance for women and girls across the state to come together to support one another, share information and celebrate women’s achievements. NSW Women’s Week will coincide with International Women’s Day on 8 March, and the NSW Women of the Year Awards on 9 March.

To celebrate the diverse contributions of women from all walks of life, NSW Women’s Week features a program of activities that range from promoting gender equality, to increasing women’s participation in sport.

Learn more about Women’s Week and how you can get involved by visiting NSW Women’s Week

The NSW Women of The Year Awards will also be a highlight of the annual calendar. Finalists in all categories will be announced here very soon.

To commence the weeklong celebrations will be inaugural NSW Women’s Health Expo on 7 March which will bring together leaders and health practitioners from across the state to explore the current priorities in women’s health.

Hear from industry experts as a range of panel discussions cover key health topics for each life stage and practical steps for how to feel empowered in managing your health. More information is available here.

To register for panel sessions and activities visit here.

Visit www.nsw.gov.au/women-nsw to start exploring. 


7. FALLING REVENUES DUE TO COVID-19

Editor Sandra Rossi at Climate Control News (CCN) reports in the latest news update of 16 February 2022 on how the Australian air conditioning and heating market industry has been hit hard by COVID-19, stating, “revenues are set to fall 7.5 per cent to $8.4 billion this financial year”.

“COVID-19 has had a significant impact on Australia’s air conditioning and heating market with revenue set to fall 7.5 per cent during the 2021/22 financial year.

Research firm IBISWorld predicts revenue will fall to $8.4 billion this financial year due to weaker demand for industry services on new building projects.

The report said most industry revenue is derived from installation and maintenance work in the non-residential property market, although the apartment construction market is emerging as an important source of demand.

“For much of the past five years, the industry’s performance has been supported by demand for the installation of sophisticated climate-control systems in large-scale non-residential building and apartment developments,” the report said.

“The economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to contribute to a significant decline in the industry’s performance leading to a decrease in industry revenue at an annualised 2.8 per cent, over the five years through 2021-22.”

READ MORE HERE


8. SAFE WORK AUSTRALIA RELEASES 2021 NATIONAL RETURN TO WORK SURVEY RESULTS

Safe Work Australia’s latest circular of 21 February 2022 reports on the release of 2021 National Return to Work Survey Summary Report.  The survey includes key metrics, insights and time series data.

Key findings from the survey include:

  • The vast majority (91.6%) of all workers surveyed in 2021 reported having returned to work at some time since their work-related injury or illness.
  • 81.3% of workers reported they had returned to work at some stage since their work-related injury or illness and were currently working.
  • Of those respondents asked about the impact of COVID-19 on their recovery and return to work most stated that the pandemic had no impact (around 73%).

Learn more in the 2021 National Return to Work Survey Summary report.

The National Return to Work Survey is a biennial survey that measures outcomes of ill and injured workers receiving workers’ compensation to better understand their experiences and factors that may influence their return to work.


9. NSW HOME BUILDING ACT 1989 REVIEW UNDERWAY

The NSW Government has embarked on a review of the Home Building Act 1989 Review.  The Review began in 2021, forming a part of tranche II of the NSW Government’s Construct NSW reform agenda.  The ‘Industry Update’ issued by the NSW Department of Customer Service, states that, “This reform agenda is a once in a generation program focused on establishing new benchmarks of excellence and restoring confidence in the residential construction industry.

In August 2021, the Department circulated a discussion paper to targeted stakeholders seeking to identify and assess the level and scope of issues that tradespersons, construction professionals and customers in the industry were facing. A series of roundtables were held, and a number of focus groups of licence holders were convened.

The Department has also worked with internal Fair-Trading staff and other NSW Government agencies to identify areas of concern or improvement in the regulatory environment. Information gathered as part of previous reviews, inquiries and studies have also been considered as part of this review. Information collated from stakeholders has been assessed and considered alongside the research collected to form a series of recommendations that together, create a new model for future licensing, enforcement and statutory warranties in the NSW building and construction sector.

As outlined in the November 2021 update, continued engagement and co-design are a key approach to this review.”  Following a release of the Industry Update, a series of stakeholder roundtables are being held during February and March 2022 to review and discuss an array of suggested proposals.  Some key proposals are being considered in relation to electrical that include standardising approaches to continuing professional development (CPD) across all building and construction related functions.  A review of the sanctions that can be issued to licence holders that transgress their licencing obligations (e.g. training and education as a form of disciplinary action), and more clarity around supervision arrangements of electrical apprentices and workers.

“Discussions and further data will help inform the regulatory impact assessment that will accompany the draft Bills when they are released for public consultation in Quarter 2, 2022.  Regulatory impact assessment of the major components of the Bills will also be released as part of the public consultation for a period of 6 weeks.”

Public consultation

The Department envisages during Quarter 2 2022 it will engage in public consultation on this package of reforms, alongside the remake of the Home Building Act 1989.

Stakeholders will be invited to provide a written submission before and during the public consultation.  The Department of Customer Service roundtable discussion papers state that “all submissions will be considered and assessed, written feedback on the proposals can be made to HBAreview@customerservice.nsw.gov.au.

The NSW UE ITAB will circulate more information as and when the public consultation phase begins on this important review of the Act.


10. ELECTRICIAN FINED AFTER DANGEROUS ERROR CAUSES ELECTRIC SHOCKS

The WA Government’s Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety has issued a media release of 14 February 2022, reporting that, “A Perth-based electrical worker has been fined $2,000 for failing to safely carry out work at a Bedford property where three family members received electric shocks after touching energised taps.”

Incident summary points:

  • Electrician did not follow the correct procedure during a kWh meter replacement
  • Three family members at the property received electric shocks from taps
  • Electricians must comply with safety standards to prevent causing harm

The media release states, “On 10 December 2021 at Perth Magistrates Court, the electrician pleaded guilty to breaching WA’s Electricity Network Safety Regulations, following prosecution by Building and Energy. The electrician cannot be named because the court granted a spent conviction.

The court was told that the electrician failed to follow kilowatt-hour (kWh) meter replacement guidelines, which require the power to be switched off or disconnected during the work.  …

An investigation found that the electrician’s work was unsafe because the electricity

supply was connected to the installation without a neutral conductor in place. The

resulting fault caused the metallic water pipes and appliance casings connected to the

earthing system to become energised. …

Magistrate Donna Webb described the electrician’s behaviour as “negligent” …”

READ MORE HERE


11. THE INVISIBILITY OF COMPLACENCY – ARC FLASH INCIDENT

Electrical Connection in its 18 February 2002 edition discusses with Dale West the horrors of being involved in an arc flash incident.  Dale (an electrician) tells a story of himself and his apprentice finding out the hard way. 

“Complacency is the invisible hazard, you don’t see it developing, it builds quietly with skill and experience, and emerge from the shadows in spectacular fashion when you least expect it, at the worst possible moment.

When working with high voltage equipment, becoming complacent is the worst thing that can happen to a sparkie.” …

“We went to the ABS, checked the location and label of the equipment with the information on the switching program, checked the action we had to perform, and opened the 33kV ABS.

All hell broke loose.

The ABS opens a gap of approximately one meter either side of the switch. When we opened the switch, we created an arc. This arc ionized the air between the contacts that continued to create a larger arc long after the switch was in the fully open position.  …

I now tell apprentices, I have been doing this job for more than forty years, but I am still an apprentice, still learning, always learning, never stop. When you feel you know it all, you get complacent, you get cocky, you make mistakes you would never think was possible.

I have become extremely pedantic at dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s. It’s not something I think you can teach. The worst thing has to happen before you realise you have to do something about it.

READ MORE HERE

If you have a story that could serve as a valuable lesson for others, please email Chris at dale@hv.coach


12. ELECTRICAL SAFETY INCIDENTS DEC-JAN – SHARING THE KNOWLEDGE

The NSW UE ITAB again is fortunate this month to be provided with the latest electrical incident reports from BluScope Steel.  As stated previously the NSW UE ITAB has received permission from BlueScope Steel to share the information. 

The aim is to help RTOs and industry practitioners have available, real case electrical incidents that occur in workplaces that they can showcase in their programs or safety moments to highlight findings and how responses are actioned to occurring events.

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

For this News Service we have two Blue Scope Steel reports covering December 2021 and January 2022 (both downloadable).  For more information and BlueScope contact details please refer to the undersigned for more information.  Again, a sincere thanks to BlueScope.


13. UPCOMING CLEAN ENERGY REGULATOR FREE WEBINARS

Master Electricians Australia (MEA) in their 17 February 2022 MEA Industry News, draw attention to a series of webinars and Q&A sessions that the Clean Energy Regulator is running. 

The webinars and Q&A sessions will outline what the amended Renewable Energy (Electricity) Regulations mean for specific sectors of the solar industry.

If you are not able to attend a session, a recorded video will be made available.

Register for the below upcoming webinars:

Agents and the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Amendment Regulation
When: 10 – 11 am AEDT, Tuesday 15 February 2022

Retailers and the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Amendment Regulations
When: 10 – 11 am AEDT, Thursday 17 February 2022

Installers and Designers and the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Amendment Regulations
When: 6 – 7 pm AEDT, Tuesday 22 February 2022

Manufacturers and Importers and the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Amendment Regulations
When: 10 – 11 am AEDT, Thursday 24 February 2022

For more information visit the Clean Energy Regulators website: www.cleanenergyregulator.gov.au/


14. RENEWABLE ENERGY CURTAILMENT MAY AFFECT UP TO 20% ROOFTOP SOLAR

Technology reporter James Purtill reports in the 16 Feb 2022 edition of ABC Science on how curtailment may be impacting rooftop solar owners’ income.  The article states, “As more households install rooftop solar and more renewable energy farms come online, a new problem is emerging.

It’s called “curtailment”, which is where an electricity generating system stops exporting to the grid or even temporarily shuts down, effectively wasting energy that could have been used.

This week, Western Australia followed South Australia in granting authorities the power to turn off household solar systems when the electricity network is under severe stress.

But curtailment isn’t only an issue in WA and SA.

Rooftop solar owners in every state and territory may be surprised to hear their panels are often being curtailed.

For a few unlucky homes, curtailment may be reducing annual output by up to 20 per cent — and the owners may not even know. …

Curtailment has two economic impacts for households: less money from exporting electricity (admittedly, this usually isn’t much) and having to pay for mains electricity.”

READ MORE HERE


15. BIGGEST SOLAR CONTRACTOR IN AUSTRALIA HIT BY DAMAGES CLAIMS, SOARING MODULE COSTS

Editor, Giles Parkinson at Renew Economy News Updated of 18 February 2022 reports on “The biggest solar EPC contractor in Australia says it has been hit by claims of liquidated damages and rising module and shipping costs.”

The article goes on to state, “Those comments may raise alarm bells in Australia, which has seen numerous solar EPC contractors collapse (spectacularly in the case of RCR Tomlinson) or withdraw from the industry because of costs and delays, much of it around connection and commissioning issues.

There are persistent rumours of further troubles in the industry, with many fretting about the impact of ongoing connection delays, and the impact of Covid-19 on supply chains.”

READ MORE HERE


16. ERARING’S EARLY CLOSURE SHOULD NOT BE A SURPRISE, BUT IT IS A HUGE WAKE-UP CALL

Regular Contributor to the Renew Economy Update, David Leitch provides an interesting perspective on the decision by Origin Energy’s to close the Eraring power station earlier than expected and install a big battery of up to 700MW on the site. 

David asserts the “announcement of the early closure of Eraring can be seen from a number of different perspectives: environmental, political and economic. The fact is, they have called the market and perhaps New South Wales’ “bluff.”

He goes on to deduce, “Can we really build the capacity to replace Eraring? To do so is going to require excellent and accelerated execution of the NSW road map. It’s also going to require, for a while, access to South Australian generation that Project EnergyConnect will bring.

The costs of poor execution of the NSW and Integrated System Plans are high. Every hour of maximum ($15,000/MWh) prices in the spot market adds almost  $2/MWh to annual average prices. As Tom Geiser from Neoen points out, that represents – or should be – the true benefit/cost priced into transmission analysis.  …

So that is why the 700MW, two-hour Waratah battery has been invoked out of thin air. No one had heard of this until yesterday, no one knows how it will be financed and it doesn’t really matter. The important thing is that it can surely be built and delivered in three years.

Angus Taylor is as correct as the next amateur when he says a two-hour big battery can’t do the job of a baseload power station. It’s not designed to do that job. A coal station does two, or even three jobs. They are: (i) provide energy; (ii) provide power, and; (iii) provide system services. If you ask the unions, they do a fourth job, which is provide jobs for life – but I’m not going there. …

Prices will increase

Every time a coal station closes, prices go up, because the closures generally come before the replacement capacity has been built. There is clearly room for doubt as to whether enough new capacity can be built in front of the Eraring closure, so that prices will be higher than if the closure came in, say, five years.

Equally, though, that price rise most likely won’t be visible, since there are no public traded futures for FY26.  Lower capacity from Eraring over the next couple of years, given its lack of firm coal supply, had likely been factored in. But even so, a further premium may be added.

The good news is that renewable developers, already champing at the bit, will get a huge confidence boost from this. They really will be needed. But will they get the transmission they need?”

READ MORE HERE