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Welding trainees ready to manufacture a bright future

Welding trainees ready to manufacture a bright future

Ten participants have completed a 15-day, intensive training course in welding and small tool skills at the TMEC Manufacturing Centre of Excellence in Burnie.

Delivered via RDA Tasmania funding as part of the Regional Employment Trial Scheme (RETS), the course was designed by the Tasmanian Minerals, Manufacturing and Energy Council.

Twenty-nine candidates for the course were nominated by Jobactive providers from across North West Tasmania with 24 undergoing a competitive interview process to qualify for the ten positions. Their dedication and interest was evident in the 100% attendance rate recorded, which will support TMEC’s plans to repeat the training program next financial year.

Experienced welders, Ray Woods and Marcus Bonney led the training which utilised the virtual reality welders and augmented reality simulators at the Centre to give students a realistic feel for using the equipment in a safe learning environment. Grinders and drills were also used in addition to machine theory which focused on reading technical drawings in order to mark out, drill and prepare a piece of work.

The simulated welding equipment enabled each participant to complete a large number of practice welds without the material costs, emissions and physical risks associated with traditional training methods. Over the course of the training, the average total arc time on each simulator was more than 43 hours.

Ray is a qualified Senior Inspector and, like Marcus, has worked across Australia. Their knowledge and diversity of experience helped them to connect with the students who varied in age from 18 to 53 years.

The holistic nature of the training incorporated three industry tours. Training participants visited Coastal Engineering and Belting, Maltec Engineering and Elphinstone to see how their learnt skills are being applied in the region and hear from each employer regarding their needs and expectations when hiring. Participants also took part in mock interviews on two occasions throughout the course to increase their job-readiness.

On completion of the course, nine participants received ISO9606 Certification for a GMAW multi-run fillet weld and small tool operation. TMEC and the course coordinators then facilitated PaTH manufacturing internships for as many participants as could be matched with host businesses.

Eight participants have since been placed in a four-week internship with local businesses including Coastal Engineering and Belting, Maltec Engineering, Jensen’s Quality Metal and Iso Tech Engineering.

The internships are being supported by a Skills Mentor Pilot program developed by TMEC in conjunction with the Department of Jobs and Small Business to provide each intern with up to 12 hours of on-the-job mentoring. The aim of the Skills Mentor Pilot is to test whether this added support assists the intern to meet the high level of technical skills required in the manufacturing sector and positively impact their transition to employment.

Two participants, Kyle and Darren shared their experiences of the course:

Eighteen year old Kyle had held jobs in the building retail trade after leaving school but a reduction in work hours led him to seek new skills and opportunities. He enjoys design and construction and is hoping that the training will lead to a job in a fabrication workshop. He nominates his loyalty to an employer as one of his strongest assets along with his love of working with his hands and attention to detail. Kyle was looking forward to the welding assessment where he could demonstrate his fillet weld skills and was motivated to get his own welding equipment and start fabricating box trailers and other home-based projects while looking for long term employment.

Darren began his working life in 1984 and enjoyed a long career in underground mining before a change in family circumstance led him to seek employment hours that better suited the patterns of a young family. He’s hoping that the course will lead to employment as a Trade Assistant in an engineering workshop somewhere closer to home. With some previous arc weld experience, Darren has worked on his own boat trailer and is open to applying his newly improved skills in any industry sector. He was surprised at how quickly the training time had passed and commended the trainers on their communication skills and ability to create a safe learning environment where questions were encouraged and participants felt inspired to have a go.