The Victorian Department of Industry and Training has granted nearly $2,000,000 toward improving skills and education opportunities in the refrigeration industry.
GOTAFE, Bendigo Kangan Institute and industry representatives CA Group Services applied for funding to complete a number of projects. And on March 15, the Hon. Gayle Tierney, Minister for Training and Skills, and Higher Education announced approval of the funding. The money will come from the Workplace Training and Innovation Fund (WTIF).
“We are excited to be able to partner with industry to deliver training relevant to their requirements,” says GOTAFE Interim Executive Director of Education Louise Pearce.
“This will ensure our apprentices are at the forefront of industry practices and equipped with the tools and skills they need to provide the outcomes required from the industry moving forward.”
Project partners worked closely with industry bodies and businesses to gain support for the work. They include:
- The Australian Institute of Refrigeration, Air Conditioning & Heating (AIRAH)
- The Australian Refrigeration Council (ARC)
- The Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Contractors Association of Australasia (RACCA)
- Air Conditioning and Mechanical Contractors Association of Victoria (AMCA)
- City FM
- International Institute of Ammonia Refrigeration (IIAR)
- The Refrigeration Engineers and Technicians Association (RETA)
- Ammonia Safety and Training Institute
- Many individual, local businesses.
Over the next two years, the project will deliver:
- An innovative industry-wide HVAC&R workforce engagement strategy and action plan that supports the ongoing development, rollout and continued upskilling and support of the HVAC&R workforce.
- A mobile upskilling solution for the delivery of training in flammable refrigerants. This will initially be used for post-apprenticeship graduates, then to enhance apprenticeship training. According to Ian Tuena, AM.AIRAH, who helped develop the funding proposal, it will incorporate virtual reality systems and system augmentation presentations.
- The overall rejuvenation and re-development of the 27 units of competency from the existing UEE32211 Certificate III in Air-conditioning and Refrigeration qualification, and the additional 12 units of competency for the flammable refrigerants. This will include a strong focus on STEM subjects as well as incorporating new and innovative technology and training methodologies.
- The inclusion of web-based and virtual training technology into training and assessment activities that will allow participants to gain experience practical tasks in a safe environment.
A new refrigeration qualification
The qualifications will be recognised by the ARC, forming part of its voluntary natural refrigerants endorsement within the current license systems.
“We hope this will eventually become part of a national skills-based qualification, which will underpin a statutory licence rather than an environmental licence,” says Tuena.
Work has started on the design of the mobile training solution, with Jonathon Hare, M.AIRAH, from CA Group Services designing the mobile training pods.
Significant consultation has taken place with students, teachers and industry to ensure that the training and assessment meets all the needs of the project stakeholders, and provides for future technological changes.
“We are asking industry to get behind this project and support it generously,” says Tuena. “This could be in the form of equipment, training materials or even ongoing funding in the form of an education levy on all refrigerants.”
Header photo: (left to right) Mayor Kim O’Keeffe, Greater Shepparton City Council; GOTAFE Board Chair Joanne Dwyer, GOTAFE CEO Travis Heeney, Minister Tierney and electrical students. Source, GOTAFE.