New industry-led course addresses local skills shortage


The South East Melbourne Manufacturers’ Alliance (SEMMA) has received $200,000 in funding from the federal government to launch an industry-led welding skills short course program, designed to provide a continuity of skills needed for the future of manufacturing.

This industry-led short course will equip participants to perform the work of “Class 2 Welders” – sufficient to meet over an estimated 70 per cent of welding tasks required by manufacturers in southeast Victoria. 

The program aims to address a widespread welding skills shortage through delivering tailored and targeted training, aligned to local employer skill requirements and industry needs.

SEMMA’s manufacturing members have provided consistent feedback in the long-standing difficulty employing local welders. Companies frequently resort to importing skilled migrant welders due to the scarcity of local talent – however, this has its own set of challenges. Many members acknowledged that they would prefer to support local job seekers as opposed to importing overseas workers.  

“As anyone who has operated in the engineering/sheet metal sector understands, Australian industry has suffered a severe shortage of suitably trained and skilled welders for more than 25 years,” SEMMA CEO Vonda Fenwick said.

“The reality of Australia’s construction led COVID recovery and the increased Defence focus over the coming years will increase demand for skilled welders exponentially. In addition to the current welder shortages, one of the reasons we have commenced this process is a fear that the Infrastructure Led Recovery will pull welders from the manufacturing sector, much as the mines called welders away during the mining boom.

“We simply cannot wait for 3 years for TAFE to turn out a couple of hundred apprentices. We need a more creative solution, and we believe that is what SEMMA’s proposal offers; it is the welding equivalent of a ‘shovel ready project…’ even though it may well be viewed by some as a disruptor,” she said.

Participants will learn key welding skills and receive placement into full-time employment with a local manufacturer upon completion. Over a dozen of SEMMA’s manufacturing members have already provided expressions of interest to employ successful graduates of the welding course.

This 4-week industry-led short course will help place job seekers into full-time, stable, long-term careers, while simultaneously addressing the urgent skill needs of manufacturers. Target participants include youth, female and culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) cohorts, as well as individuals whose previous employment was impacted by COVID-19.   

SEMMA are pleased to help provide local job seekers with a valued career in manufacturing with the opportunity to progress, specialise and earn significant income as their experience grows.  

Course details:

  • 150 hours over 4 weeks from late September 2021
  • No cost to participants
  • 60 participants (5 courses x approx. 12 participants)
  • Facilitated job placement with exciting local industries upon successful completion
  • Training delivered by Chisholm Institute onsite in a real factory environment with a community-focused industry leader
  • Participants will utilise brand new equipment, including VR welding simulators
  • Project Management of the approved Local Jobs Program (LJP) activity is provided by SEMMA
  • The Local Jobs Program (LJP) is funded by the Australian government Department of Education, Skills and Employment.

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