News Service 84 – Minister wants shorter apprenticeships, NextGen awards, What’s next VET, Hunter FutureProof, Renewable skill shortages, evidence of competency, RTO fined, ASQA online results, NSC Feb Recruitment Up, Incident Safety & Industry news

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1. MINISTER CALLS FOR SHORTENING OF APPRENTICESHIP TERMS

The Minister for Employment, Workforce, Skills, Small and Family Business and Acting Minister for Education and Youth, The Hon Stuart Robert MP, was a keynote speaker at the recent NAEN 2022 Conference – Adaptation and Opportunity, held in Hobart 15-17 March 2022.

The Minister thought it was a good time to throw out a challenge to apprenticeship employing community to promote the prospects of shortening the current nominal four-year apprenticeship term because of a case study he came across at BHP’s training academy in Mackay.

The operation no doubt is a well-contained and well-structured environment for apprentices, which may evince opportunities to hasten the completion of an apprenticeship.  But it is a far cry from the environment many apprentices undertake their competency development programs in.  Many apprentices work in unstructured workplaces (on-the-job).  Often, their competency development is underpinned and augmented by a strong and structured off-the-job-the job program developed by a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) against the requirements of a national qualification.  The combination of a structured off-the-job the job program supported by naturally occurring workplace evidence that the RTO monitors and shapes in consultation with the employer is the most administratively effective apprenticeship competency development model ever devised for myriads of differing workplace environments.  On the balance of probability, the existing nominal four years, because of the learning process of a competency-based qualification predicated on safety, regulations and standards, technology, work processes and work organisation is unlikely to be reduced significantly, unless one introduces a highly regulated mechanisms to structure the workplace learning cycle. 

For small business and business that are highly mobile (e.g. contractors), moving from job to job to meet customer demands, the prospects of introducing a highly regulated mechanisms to enforce structure in the workplace learning cycle is naïve, and prone to significant safety consequences for employers, work colleagues and the community.  Not to mention industrial and work organisation issues.  It simply takes time and much repetition to learn and demonstrate competency in a combined structured and unstructured competency development model.  That is a fact. 

The Minister maybe correct, that apprenticeships have a long history and they have been shortening over time.  Typically, this has occurred during time of severe skill shortages as we are experiencing now, but what is missed is that progressively since the inception of apprenticeships that go back over 2,000 years, that the shortening has occurred with-ever increasing structure introduced, particularly in the delivery of underpinning knowledge and skills to the apprentice.  We are at a pivotal time that the off-the-job structured program has reached its zenith in terms of efficiency and efficacy of structured delivery and the only place left is to structure the workplace.  This component is fraught with many complexities, too many to mention here, but no doubt the BHP’s training academy at Mackay will have addressed many of these issues, and no doubt explained such to the Minister.

Maybe the Minister in his speech, is foreshadowing the establishment of an ‘Apprenticeship Commission’ that would put into effect the very administrative, structured and contained environment BHP’s training academy employs, across all Australian apprenticeships? 

Should this be the case, the Minister may very well solve the current and projected skill shortage problem.  But history shows that much of the call for shortened apprenticeships over hundreds of years takes more than suggestion.  It needs research, dialogue and structural and supportive changes to achieve. 

There is little research in Australia, recommending models that might be deployed to demonstrate how shortened apprenticeships could be introduced to cover off the issues raised above and more importantly, the contractual and industrial arrangements. 

If the Minister is keen to reduce the term of apprenticeships the first action should be to undertake a comprehensive national apprenticeship research and industry consultation activity to identify recommendations and options that could be introduced and discussed with stakeholders.  The NSW UE ITAB would welcome the opportunity to participate and in fact undertake the research if there was genuine interest in progressing it.

The following is a snapshot of the Minister’s speech regarding the shortening of apprenticeships and can be downloaded from the link below.

“… one of the most important things the nation is talking about right now and that is skills. I recognise the great work the group training does, particularly in supporting people from disadvantaged organisations, but particularly because you’ve got the highest completion rates of apprenticeships within our national system, and that’s something we need to focus strongly on.

The National Skills Commissioner tells me we need 86,000 completing apprentices each year in the latest Skilling the Nation report; that we need to start turning the dial away from commencements although important, to completions, which is vital.”…

“But firstly, early expectations. We all know our apprenticeship system was imported from Great Britain. The apprenticeship mode of skills transfer or indentured labour of the young working with the old goes back to times that are ancient.

And apprenticeships and the way they are done in Australia is probably the last vestige of medieval training that we still retain that is recognisable in Australia.”…

So apprenticeships as we now have with an incarnation of the old, of course, the new through traineeships, they are a role. They came when settlement came. Indeed, they came here 219 years ago.

One of the things we also imported at the time was the master-servant relationship and the British laws covering masters and apprentices. Indeed, amongst the 780 convicts who arrived in 1788 on the First Fleet, there were actually two convict apprentices. There were 63 whose declared occupations were skilled, and 58 appeared to be semi-skilled, and that covered both men and women.” …

“Our system has evolved, yes, but it maintains some medieval roots. We recall the way we assessed the premises, the length of study, initiatives, pay, appropriate working environments. We then introduced traineeships and school-based apprenticeships. We changed the way we taught apprentices, where they learnt their skills, distribution of on the job and in-class learning. And with each iteration of our modern economy, we have changed many things about the system. But one thing has stayed the same, since people arrived at your shores in 1883 and the national shores in 1788, and that is that skills are foundational and fundamental and central to our society, the economy of New South Wales in 1788, Van Diemen’s Land in 1803 or indeed modern Hobart in 2022.”  …

From apprenticeships which we then at six years of course to the madness and the folly of World War One, we dropped apprenticeships from six to five because we lost so many of the best of our country out on the Western Front, and apprenticeships needed to collapse down and of course, we went from five to four after the second half of the First World War leading into the second. And here we are at apprenticeships at four years because they started at eight in 1640, and world events have collapsed them down. Could it be that it is time for us to look at a new approach and a new way?

For those who enjoy travelling, I encourage you to get through to see BHP’s training academy in Mackay, where all of their apprenticeships are done in two years, fully signed off and ticketed in my state of Queensland, and that is no mean feat by any stretch of the imagination, where apprentices could be done in two years.

The question I have for you all, as training organisations is which are the most innovative? Is there an opportunity for us collectively, with the support of government, to lead the way on the next and perhaps final step of apprenticeships to break away from our current model? Whilst we all understand it’s competency based and you can do it quicker, the vast majority don’t seem to. Is there an opportunity to embrace what BHP is about and fully step towards a competency model that can collapse and condense as required? If anyone can do it, this room can. And perhaps only this group can actually start that last part of the journey. It’s only being 380 years, but I think it’s worthy of our time.” …

Now, to the future – what next? Let’s start where we always like to start, with facts. Facts don’t lie; we have different opinions, it’s hard to have different facts. A million new jobs will be created across the economy in the next five years. We know that. We saw almost a billion created the last five years. Data from the National Skills Commission, which tabled its first State of the National Skills Report last year, indicates that more than 90 per cent of new jobs emerging over the next five years will require post-school qualifications. A sizeable 38 per cent of skills shortages are in occupations with a vocational pathway. They are facts, and they are not in dispute. To help ensure this, the government’s investment in apprenticeships will continue to encourage employers to offer apprenticeship pathways and individuals to take up opportunities in the sector Australia needs. You’ll need to wait for the budget to hear more about that. Four industries are projected to generate more than 60 per cent of this total employment growth. The healthcare and social assistance, the accommodation, food services, professional, scientific, technical and education and training.” …

So in conclusion, we started with early expectations in the 1600s when apprentices had to do eight years and now we’ve taken them for four. There is an opportunity now for us to collectively lead the way to look at a new, true competency-based approach to apprenticeships, to look at models that’ve gone before us like BHP, to look at how we can make it seamlessly easier for Australians.” …

TDA Newsletter of 14 March 2022 reports that Minister also stated during the speech, that the government would be revisiting the Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements (BAC) program recognising it proved successful in uplifting the number of apprentice commencements.  However, the 50% subsidy was unlikely to be sustained.  The newsletter states, “Mr Robert told last week’s National Apprentice Employment Network conference in Hobart that the government would continue to invest in apprenticeships to meet skills shortages.

“We’ll need to wait for the budget to hear more about that,” he said.

Mr Robert noted that before the pandemic, employer incentives for apprenticeships were less than 3%, but were ramped up to 50% “as we stared into the abyss”.

“So you’ve got one of those rare opportunities in public policy. You know what didn’t work – which was 3% – and you know what seriously worked, and that was 50%,” Mr Robert said.

“So, you’ll have to wait for the budget to see where we land.”

TRANSCRIPT — SPEECH TO THE NATIONAL APPRENTICE EMPLOYMENT NETWORK’S NATIONAL CONFERENCE, 16 MARCH 2022, HOBART


2. NEXTGEN GOES WEST

Climate Control News (CCN) reports in the 16 March 2022 new service of a record number of nominations from Western Australia for the NextGen 2022 Awards.  Editor, Sandra Rossi states in the article, “NextGen 2022 has received a record number of nominations from Western Australia.

For the past two years CCN has received entries from all states and territories in Australia although the eastern states tend to dominate.

This year West Australian technicians have come out fighting. This is the third year that CCN has undertaken a national search for Australia’s Top 20 NextGen apprentices under the age of 25.

The 2022 program was launched in partnership with the Australian Refrigeration Council (ARC) to promote trade excellence and showcase the nation’s next generation of RAC technicians.

ARC CEO, Glenn Evans, said the program has also raised the profile of the RAC sector promoting the trade as a profession of first choice.

“For young people thinking about different career options, this industry offers it all –   variety on the job, the challenge of working with the latest technology, long term job security and great pay,” he said.”

To nominate go to www.climatecontrolnews.com.au/nextgenentries close on 1 April 2022.

READ MORE HERE


3. CLAIRE FIELD ON WHAT’S NEXT FOR VET

Campus Morning Mail in its 16 March 2022 edition, included an article by Claire Field on what’s next for Vocational Education and Training (VET). 

Claire reflects on the impact to the VET sector of a return of a coalition government or a change in government to the opposition party, Labor.  The article states, “As the country heads towards the next Federal election, it is timely to reflect on what the result will mean for the VET sector. A returned Coalition government will pursue efficient VET pricing and more funding contestability; whereas Labor is promising 45,000 new “free TAFE” places and the conversion of 420,000 existing VET places to “free TAFE.”

A raft of other reforms are underway which are likely to be progressed irrespective of the election outcome, including:

  • a new model of industry engagement (Industry Clusters)
  • reforms to simplify VET qualification design
  • trials of new assessment models, and
  • trials of new apprenticeship models.

It is funding for VET delivery though which is crucial and the latest data shows significant differences, despite apparent national agreement on VET priorities.

Micro-credentials for example are identified as a priority in the draft VET Reform Roadmap, yet only the New South Wales government currently provides significant funding for short courses (skillsets). In the first nine months of 2021, 20 per cent of government-funded VET students in NSW enrolled in skillsets. In Victoria it was just one per cent.

And while business is crying out for more workers with digital skills, only two per cent of government-funded enrolments were in IT courses, and despite shortages in healthcare workers only six per cent of government funded-enrolments were in Health. Further analysis is on my website.

My point here is not that one jurisdiction is doing better than another, or that only IT and Health are important; rather that whoever holds the federal purse strings after the election will exert significant influence on a sector that espouses national priorities but is currently fragmented.

And as we look to future reform, Gerald Burke’s latest work can contextualise those reform ideas and should be required reading for all parties to the next National Skills Agreement.”

Listen also to Claire’s podcast where she recently interviewed Innovation Business Skills Australia’s Sharon Robertson on the What now? What next? podcast to discuss the new Industry Cluster reforms.

READ MORE HERE


4. HUNTER REGION FUTUREPROOF FESTIVAL NOW ON

The Hunter Region is holding it Future Proof Festival this week from 21 March – 25 March 2022.  A range of events are scheduled throughout the week. 

The Futureproof Festival aims to bridge the information deficit gap and provide industries, businesses, parents, and job seekers of the region an opportunity to see for themselves the opportunities that exist in their backyard as we pivot, pioneer, and prosper. “Now the Hunter looks toward the horizon as we see improved supply chain capability and connectivity through the Newcastle Airport upgrade, the Hunter Hydrogen Roadmap, and the thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem. We need to act now to build the awareness, and capability to ensure that the prosperity of the region’s future is grown from within.”  Future Proof’s mission is:

  • “Showcase emerging, and innovative industries
  • Highlight skills of the future and pathways to employment
  • Profile growth industries
  • Provide insight into operational change and adaptability into the future”

Tuesday 22 March 2022 – Futureproof for the Hunter

It includes a Futureproof for the Hunter presentation at 12pm to 2pm Level 5 / 25 Watt St, Newcastle NSW.  Join this event to hear from experts in energy, defence and health to hear their views on these three dominant and growing industries in the Hunter and what it means for the future of work in our region.

BOOK HERE FOR THE EVENT – 12pm to 2pm

Wednesday 23 March 2022 there are three events scheduled:

  1. Small Business Opportunities in the NDIS Sector – Online (10 – 11:30 AM) Location: Online (Zoom – BOOK HERE)
  2. The Future of Employment in Singleton – presented by Singleton Council – Time: 11 AM – 12:30 PM Location: Singleton Diggers (BOOK HERE)
  3. Panel Discussion Series- Entrepreneurial People: Belief in a Better Future – presented by City of Newcastle – Time: 5 – 7 PM Location: 48 Watt St (BOOK HERE)

More events are scheduled for Thursday, 24 March 2022 and Friday, 25 March 2022.

To find out more visit the following link:  FUTUREPROOF CALENDAR


5. AUSTRALIA FACES SERIOUS SKILLS SHORTAGE ON ROAD TO BECOMING RENEWABLE SUPERPOWER

Sophie Vorrath, Deputy editor of Renew Economy writes in the 17 March 2022 edition of Renew Economy of the impending serious skill shortage in the renewable energy sector.

The article states, “The new head of Vestas in Australia and New Zealand, Danny Nielsen, has warned that Australia faces a renewable energy skills shortage, as the roll out of bigger and more complex wind and solar projects is ramped up to populate renewable energy zones and meet state targets.

Speaking at the Clean Energy Council’s Wind Industry Forum on Thursday in Melbourne, Nielsen – a veteran of the wind industry and of Danish wind giant, Vestas – said Australia had all the ingredients to be a renewable energy superpower, including in offshore wind.

But to realise all of this renewable potential at the speed required to replace outgoing coal power and meet Australia’s climate commitments will require ready access to hundreds of thousands of skilled workers – a workforce Australia doesn’t currently have.

“Australia has … the capacity to be what we call a clean energy superpower, across all technologies and generator types,” Nielsen told the conference.

“[But if] this world class hub… in Australia is going to kick off, we’re not going to need 25,000 more people, right? We’re going to need 250,000, 300,000 people.

“[A major] challenge for the industry is that we actually need a workforce that can meet the current demand for what we’re doing in renewables,” Nielsen said.” 

“This contrasts sharply with the approach of the Conservative government in the UK, which under Boris Johnson has committed to tip billions of government funds into the green economy over the coming decade and create as many as 440,000 new jobs from emerging green industries.

Australian researchers have predicted similar job creation numbers could be seen here, including in a report published in October last year by the Australian Conservation Foundation, WWF Australia, the union group ACTU and the Business Council of Australia.

That report estimated that a renewable energy export industry built around renewable hydrogen and ammonia production, alone, would create almost 400,000 new jobs.”

READ MORE HERE


6. EVIDENCE OF COMPETENCY

Alan Maguire at On Target Work Skills has a very insightful article in his latest March 2022post on assessment.  He discusses the complex issue of assessment instruments used by RTOs that when reviewed do not comply with the requirements specified by the Standards for RTOs.

His post states, “The national VET regulator, ASQA, was established in 2011. It is astonishing that after more than a decade, ASQA has been unable to encourage or enforce compliance. And what makes it even more astonishing is a move towards self-regulation. This will allow the many RTOs that are not currently compliant, to self-regulate their future compliance (or should I say, self-regulate their non-compliance).”

He outlines a particular recent experience in which he assisted an RTO employee to develop assessment instruments for the CPCCCA3010 Install windows and doors unit of competency, which consequently, led him to write the article about the experience.  The post provides a case study of the issues worthy of exploring:

  • “How to determine the number of assessment tasks,
  • How to develop an assessment instrument to gather performance evidence,
  • How to develop an assessment instrument to gather knowledge evidence.”

The article provides a detailed explanation of the ‘how to’ for each of the points outlined above.  In addition to elaborating on the how to, Alan explains that analysis and time are a key factor to the development of quality assessment instruments. 

He states, “The time required to conduct an assessment to determine if a person is competent at using a hand-held radio is typically going to be less than an hour. It is a relatively low level skill. But it takes a long time to develop a compliant assessment tool. People need time to analyse the unit of competency and associated assessment requirements. And then more time to draft assessment documents, review and trial assessment documents, and finalise assessment documents prior to implementation.

People need to know how to conduct the analysis and be willing to spend their time doing it. It can take a lot of time to design and develop compliant assessment instruments.

The design and development of assessment instruments require subject matter expertise. It the developer is not a subject matter expert, then they will need to work with one.”

He concludes by stating, “Gathering valid and sufficient evidence of competency is a fundamental part of the assessment process. It takes time and effort to design and develop the assessment instruments to gather the required knowledge evidence and required performance evidence.”  He provides a link to two essential sources of information in the post.

READ MORE HERE


7. VET PROVIDER ORDERED TO PAY $23K IN PENALTIES FOR ACTING OUTSIDE THE SCOPE OF THEIR REGISTRATION

The Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) includes in its 9 March 20222 news service an article of a VET provider having been ordered to pay $23,000 in penalties by the Federal Court, for acting outside the scope of their registration. 

The article states, “The Federal Court has ordered a training provider to pay significant penalties for 11 contraventions of the National Vocational Education and Training Regulator Act 2011 (the NVR Act).

On 1 February 2022, the Federal Court found that Rose Training Australia Pty Ltd had breached the NVR Act on 8 occasions between October 2017 and February 2019 by purporting to issue certification for qualifications without appropriate registration.

The Court also found that on 3 occasions between December 2017 and March 2018, Rose Training received and undertook assessment of part of the same VET course without registration to do so.

Justice Collier ordered Rose Training to pay a total pecuniary penalty of $23,000 and $45,000 in costs.

In her judgement, Justice Collier took into account that public confidence in the value of VET training and qualifications may be undermined when training organisations act outside the scope of their registration, and that the scale and nature of the industry means it is important for training providers to adhere to regulations to ensure confidence in the integrity of the industry.”  …

“ASQA began investigations into Rose Training’s activities in March 2019.”

READ MORE HERE

7.1.   FEDERAL COURT UPHOLDS ASQA DECISION

“On another federal court case, ASQA received a unanimous decision of 3 Federal Court judges to dismiss an appeal from ASQA’s decision to reject the renewal of registration of Site Skills Group Pty Ltd (SSG) as a vocational education and training (VET) provider.  SSG will no longer be able to operate as a registered training organisation (RTO) in Australia.”  …

“In 2017, ASQA cancelled the registration of Productivity Partners Pty Ltd (PP), another RTO and subsidiary of the same parent company of SSG, Site Group International (SGI), based on evidence of systemic non-compliance with the VET Quality Framework – including activities as a provider under the VET FEE-HELP scheme. …”

ASQA’s CEO Ms Saxon Rice welcomed the Court’s decision.

READ MORE HERE


8. INSIGHTS PAPER NO. 3 – ASQA’S STRATEGIC REVIEW OF ONLINE LEARNING

The Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) is undertaking a Strategic Review of Online Learning in the vocational education and training (VET) sector. 

ASQA initiated the strategic review in 2020, prompted by the significant number of providers who shifted their online delivery posture in response to the circumstances created by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.  Insights paper number three (3) shares findings from a detailed online learning provider survey (‘the survey’), jointly administered with the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER).  The survey was open to all ASQA-regulated providers from February to March 2021.

The paper identified the overall impact of COVID-19 on delivery modes, stating that, “All providers (excluding those already delivering fully online) made significant changes to increase their use of online delivery in response to COVID-19.

  • Nearly two-thirds of providers who were not delivering any online learning pre-COVID-19, incorporated online delivery in some form in response to COVID-19.
  • The biggest survey respondent by organisation type were private training providers (number=951)1, who went from 6.2% fully online (including face-to-face work placement) pre-COVID-19 to 38% post-COVID-19.”

“A considerable proportion of providers (62%) who shifted their online delivery posture in response to COVID-19, indicated that they were likely to utilise more blended learning (a combination of digital learning and in-class, face-to-face learning) in the future. In addition, almost a quarter (22%) of providers stated they were likely to permanently shift more units/parts of qualifications online, and a further 11% were likely to permanently shift more full qualifications online. These responses indicate COVID-19 has influenced many providers to consider permanently shifting more of their training and assessment to online delivery.”  …

Barriers to shifting online

Most common obstacles identified by providers for transitioning to online training and assessment included:

  • The online delivery method is not suitable for students
  • The subject matter is not suitable for online delivery”

Overall, the survey results showed that providers perceived that trainers and assessors adapted well to the shift online.  For example, of the 893 providers that reported they transitioned to online delivery (to any extent), 84% reported a view that their trainers/assessors adapted reasonably or very well. Providers expressed confidence that challenges of the rapid transition online were met, and quality was maintained. Not all survey respondents described success, but most did, suggesting that, in general, from a provider perspective, Australian VET navigated COVID-19 in a way that minimised disruption.”

READ MORE HERE


9. RECRUITMENT CONDITIONS STRONG IN FEBRUARY 2022

The National Skills Commission (NSC) reports in its latest 15 March 2022, Labour Market Insights that recruitment conditions in February were very strong. 

Stating, “A record high level of recruitment activity has been recorded by the National Skills Commission’s February 2022 Recruitment Experiences and Outlook Survey.

The February 2022 results show that recruitment activity reached a new peak of 53%, an increase of 11 percentage points since January 2022 and above the previous peak of 51% in December 2021. The strong level of recruitment activity is consistent with trends seen in the NSC’s Internet Vacancy Index (IVI).

Across the States, recruitment activity was highest in Western Australia (59%) and Victoria (58%).

The rate of recruitment difficulty stands at 62% of recruiting employers (representing 33% of total employers).

While this is a decrease from the spike of 68% in January 2022, it is still the third highest monthly result on record, suggesting that many employers are currently struggling to fill their vacancies at a time when the unemployment rate is at its lowest level since August 2008.

Future demand for workers is likely to be strong as well, with one third of employers expecting to increase staff numbers over the next 3 months – another record high result this month.”

READ MORE HERE


10. METRO TRAINS FINED AFTER ARC FLASH INJURY

Editor Sean Carroll reports in 16 March 2022 edition of Electrical Connection on the prosecution of Metro Trains Melbourne after a worker suffered an electrical shock. 

The article states, “Metro Trains Melbourne, the operator of Melbourne’s metropolitan rail systems, has been convicted and fined $100,00 after a worker suffered an electrical shock while upgrading the lines in 2018.

The company was ordered to pay costs of $5,971 after pleading guilty to a single charge of failing to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, that the workplace was safe and without risks to health.

In July 2018, the linesman sustained burns to his hand and required hospital treatment after a live wire caused an arc flash while he was installing a steel bracket on an overhead gantry near Kooyong Station.

The incident occurred during an electrical upgrade of the Glen Waverley line at the Glenferrie Road tram square, the level crossing where tram and train tracks intersect.

An investigation found a 600V feeder cable running into the intersection had not been isolated, because diagrams prepared for the work did not show where the live electrical assets were physically located.”

READ MORE HERE


11. ELECTRIC INCIDENTS AND SHOCK

Two electric incidents are reported in the week ending 11 March 2022, NSW Resources Regulator’s Weekly Incident Summary Mines Safety News, 18 March 2022. 

The first involves a boilermaker who “suffered an electric shock while conducting chassis repairs on a haul truck with a MIG welder. The boilermaker was between the main alternator and the chassis when he felt a shock across his chest (Dangerous incident | IncNot0041760 – Surface coal).”

The Regulator’s comments to industry were, “Mine operators should verify that workers carrying out welding have identified appropriate earthing points, their personal protection equipment (PPE) is dry and they are appropriately trained. Welding machines must be isolated when not in use.

Refer to:

Safety Bulletin SB1903 Welding-related electric shocks increase

NSW Resources Regulator Information Sheet No 2 Basic welding practices

The second incident involves an electrician, who “placed his personal isolation lock onto a lock box and began work on a sump pump.

As the electrician began to remove the main junction box screws, the pump started. The electrician was not injured. The work procedure contained incorrect isolation information and the electrician failed to test for dead before starting work on the pump (Dangerous incident | IncNot0041774 – Open cut coal).”

In this case the Regulator’s comments to industry were, “When group isolation systems are used, the isolation must be confirmed for all the required tasks. When workers lock onto a group isolation, they must check that the isolation is suitable for the task they are conducting. Mine workers must be trained and competent in isolation procedures and should always test for dead before starting work.”

READ MORE HERE


12. CHARGES LAID BY REGULATOR OVER ALLEGED FALSIFIED DOCUMENTS FOR SOLAR INSTALLATIONS

Journalist Michael Mazengarb, reports in the March 17, 2022 edition of One Step Of the Grid, of an electrical company facing criminal charges after a Clean Energy Regulator investigation found it had provided false information relating to the installation of rooftop solar systems.

The article states, “The Clean Energy Regulator refused to confirm the identity of the company subject to the allegations, but said that the matter had been referred to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions, which is prosecuting the matter.

In a statement, the Regulator said that it had alleged the company provided false or misleading documents to an agent under the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme, on more than a dozen occasions relating to rooftop solar installations.

That agent that then relied on that misleading or false information to claim Small-scale Technology Certificates.

“On 14 occasions between March 2019 and July 2019, the company provided Small-scale Technology Certificate (STC) assignment forms to an agent who then relied on that information to create certificates. It is alleged that each STC assignment form contained false information relating to the identity of the installer of the solar PV systems,” the regulator said.”

READ MORE HERE


13. AEMC HYDROGEN INFORMATION SESSION

The Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) will be holding a hydrogen virtual review information session. 

The notice states, “In conjunction with the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources and AEMO, we will hold a virtual information session to present draft recommendations for the hydrogen and renewable gases review on 1 April 2022 from 1pm.

For more information visit the hydrogen REVIEW PROJECT PAGE for more information and contact details.  The Review held in August 2021, Energy Ministers tasked the AEMC with a review of the National Gas Rules (NGR) and National Energy Retail Rules (NERR) to develop initial rules that will extend the regulatory frameworks to include low-level hydrogen blends and renewable gases. 

To register email: renewablegas@industry.gov.au

READ MORE HERE


14. AUSTRALIAN CARBON CREDIT UNITS (ACCUs) TAKE A VERY BIG TUMBLE

The 17 March 2022 EnergyInsider, a joint newsletter publication of the Energy Networks Australia (ENA) and Australian Energy Council (AEC) reviews the sudden plunge in Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs). 

The article states, “Earlier this year there was much discussion around the skyrocketing demand for Australian Carbon Credit Units. But a short time after, the price of carbon credits took an extraordinary tumble losing more than a third of their value in one day. Recent events in ACCU prices re-affirm how important it is for government and regulators to avoid surprising the market. It also exposes the fragility of “direct action” carbon markets. Here we look at the fluctuations and their implications.

The tumble was caused by an arcane and innocuous looking statement that the Clean Energy Regulator (CER) released on 4 March, which paves the way for billions of dollars in government carbon contracts to be dishonoured and re-sold into the open market. …

Recent events in ACCU prices re-affirm how important it is for government and regulators to avoid surprising the market. The events also expose the fragility of “direct action” carbon markets. Below takes a closer look at the fluctuations and their implications.

READ MORE HERE

For more, contact Ben Skinner, Australian Energy Council