Critical manufacturing trades qualifications are being updated

Critical manufacturing trades

Manufacturing and Engineering Industry Reference Committee chair, Kristian Stratton, speaks with Manufacturers’ Monthly about the latest skills for apprenticeship training to meet industry needs.

With the increasing development of a modern manufacturing industry and the increasing skills issues being faced by business in Australia, it is essential that skills keep pace to meet the future needs of workers, employers and industry.

The latest qualifications in the Manufacturing and Engineering (MEM) training package represent the biggest change since 2005 and cover some of the country’s most critical trades including fitters, sheet metal workers, welders, and boilermakers.

These changes come after an extensive consultation and engagement processes undertaken by the Manufacturing and Engineering Industry Reference Committee (MEM IRC), with support provided by national workforce skills developers IBSA Manufacturing.

Critical manufacturing trades
Manufacturing and Engineering Industry Reference Committee chair, Kristian Stratton.

MEM Release 2.1 has been endorsed by Skills Ministers and is available on the national VET Register and is part of a series of qualification updates that are being released over the coming months.

The latest release impacts a range of skills in the metal, engineering, manufacturing engineering and associated industries, and includes 18 qualifications that range from Certificate I through to Diploma level, with 13 of those being Certificate III trade qualifications designed for apprenticeship training.

The update removes ambiguity and reflects more accurately how skills are used in the workplace, and the direct relationship between skills and industry occupations. Most importantly, it gives critical trades more qualifications that will fit with industry current and future needs.

The MEM IRC has been heavily involved in the redesign and the new qualifications have been determined through the IRC analysing the job roles in detail, and consulting extensively with industry and other interested parties, so they feed into industry’s vision for developing a modern manufacturing workforce.

MEM IRC Chair, Kristian Stratton, said that one of the biggest changes to the package was the inclusion of workplace interaction.

“The MEM IRC determined that it was essential for there to be extensive practice in the workplace, and demonstration of competence in workplace settings for the qualifications to be achieved and to ensure that they align with contemporary job roles in manufacturing,” he says.

“Given the nature of these jobs and the scale of investment in plant and equipment at stake, it is essential that people can demonstrate workplace competence on an ongoing basis.”

Stratton says the consultation activities showed industry strongly supported the need for workplace practice and the value of apprenticeships to ensuring people did develop the skills necessary in a workplace context.

Now the new qualifications have been endorsed by Skills Ministers, the next step is to communicate them clearly to stakeholders and ensure they are implemented by December 2022 when the transition period ends.

“We need to ensure everyone understands the changes and knows how to implement them correctly,” he says. “We’ve already run a series of webinars with key stakeholders to inform them of the implementation plan and timelines. The next stage will be a national roadshow across regional and capital cities which is scheduled to begin late July and run throughout August.”

When asked about the help available for industry and training organisations to make the transition, Stratton says in addition to the webinars and roadshow, a suite of materials has been developed for the National VET register. These include a Companion Implementation Guide and an Essential Features Guide which outlines the new changes and how to best incorporate them into training delivery.

Stratton said that it was very positive that many TAFE Institutes and other training organisations approved to deliver these qualifications have already commenced delivery.  

“We believe it will support industry through ensuring workers have the most up-to-date skills as part of their trade qualifications,” he says.

The MEM IRC is now focused on rolling out further updated MEM qualifications. These include   advanced welding and technician level qualifications.

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