HYDAC has built a systematic hydraulics training system predicated on a level of training superior to that offered at TAFE and other educational institutions.
This is according to its Managing Director Mark Keen, who adds that HYDAC is increasingly noting the need for a flexible approach in line with pandemic times, the advent of new technologies and learning models and the skills deficit.
“Who can deliver training better than the people who designed, built and applied the systems? Coming from our background, we are able to give training at a much higher level, with very good feedback coming through.”
Mr Keen says the challenge for educational institutions is how to “keep up to date”.
“Where can people go for further hydraulics training in Australia – it doesn’t exist here so people have to go to countries such as America, the UK or Germany, where language requirements have to sometimes be dealt with.”
Taking this into account HYDAC is in a “good position” to put together a comprehensive range of courses at a higher level, with better content, and with the correct type of tools and equipment at hand to ensure that students have a worthwhile learning experience.
“To ensure the current best practice and state-of-the art training, HYDAC has purpose built a number of advanced training rigs for students to learn and practice from. These rigs allow full electro-hydraulic integration, PLC through to mobile controller and condition monitoring practice,” he says.
Skills deficit prevalent
Another benefit, Mr Keen says, is that hydraulics training helps reduce the skills shortage that has “has not gone away”.
“Everybody we talk to, without exception, says they don’t have enough skilled people. But if no significant amount of your employment budget – one to two per cent – is going into training or continuing training for your people, then you’ll always have that problem. And even the people who are skilled are slipping behind because there’s no continuous learning,” he says.
“Technology is changing faster than training, causing a bracket creep on skills deficit.
“If it’s not structured, you hope that they might learn something else, or that they’ll pick it up along the way, or they’ll keep up with new trends and new technology. But that’s not enough. You can’t just depend on luck or a knowledge-hungry person. You know very often people get distracted, they’ve got other commitments, and they don’t end up doing the self-learning that really is required.”
This is reinforced by a first of its kind Australian survey by the Centre for the New Workforce at Swinburne University of Technology.
The survey highlights that Australian workers and their businesses are at high risk of getting left behind unless employers make significant changes to their workplaces post-COVID.
In this unprecedented era of disruption, the survey found that more than half of Australian workers do less than one hour of learning a week despite three in five workers saying they are concerned they don’t have the requisite skills for the next five years.
Mr Keen underscores that it is critical that companies get on board and understand the importance of learning for their teams.
“If people feel that you’re investing in them, and you’re caring about them, and continuously, you know, assisting them, then your retention of people will be better, probably, and certainly the outcome of their work will be better because they’re better trained, better prepared.”
Nationally accredited learning among more flexible formats
Mr Keen says HYDAC does work with the model from the historical system which sees employers often sending their staff for nationally recognised training via registered training organisations (RTOs).
“The percentage of students who apply for national accreditation at the end of a course is diminishing. We have to ask then whether it’s a prerequisite that we deliver only courses which are nationally certified and whether the focus should be on actual advanced skills and capability.”
He adds that the cost of compliance and continuous audits and certification is “very high”, which is “counter-intuitive” as it directly results in courses becoming more expensive.
“Interested corporations and students are then more apt to say the training is too expensive.”
The next step for HYDAC has been to move toward a partnership with universities, but it has also run into “issues” there in terms of engineers not being able to get nationally recognised accreditation after completing nationally accredited courses because they’re not coming from an apprenticeship stream but rather a university stream.
“Engineers do not have the trade type prerequisites to comply as the existing definition is they have not gained certified prior learning attached to national accreditation requirements,” Mr Keen says.
“The ludicrous barriers placed in front of skilled technicians and qualified engineers etc. stopping them from getting nationally recognised accreditation shows just how broken the national system is.”
He says he has discussed the dearth of students attending lectures and seminars with university professors as he closely follows the education and training to which universities adhere.
“What’s happened is that universities are forced to record their lectures and seminars for students to watch on demand. We at HYDAC intend to follow some of these new systems in harmony with the universities to offer learning on demand.”
However, HYDAC’s objective is not to throw the baby out with the bathwater as at times nationally accredited courses are suitable whereas at other times a more flexible approach meets learning requirements.
“Businesses are short staffed, everybody is short-staffed; sometimes there isn’t the luxury of letting people go for a week to do a training course. Affordability needs also have to be met when people want to avoid accommodation and travel fees. And then there’s pushback because of COVID-19, with some fearing face-to-face situations or crowded travel.”
Bearing this in mind HYDAC intends to extend the scope of its already substantial training to provide a broad mixture of learning solutions, including face-to-face, online, remote and virtual and augmented reality as well as flexible modules catered to learner requirements.