Features, Weld Australia

Revolutionising welder training: Introducing the new MEM resources

Author: Geoff Crittenden    CEO, Weld Australia 

Welders are more in demand than ever—labour shortages are inhibiting the growth of Australia’s welding industry. According to Weld Australia’s members, 50 per cent of Australia’s welding workshops are currently operating at 80 per cent of their capacity or below. When asked why this is, a lack of skilled workers was the overwhelming answer.

The Federal Government recently added an extra 39 occupations to the Australian Apprenticeships Priority List. The list has grown to encompass 111 occupations, as Australia continues to struggle with skills shortages across a range of different sectors—particularly welding and fabrication. 11 per cent of the occupations included in the Priority List are now related to welding.

This labour shortage comes as no surprise. Weld Australia has been calling for urgent action for over five years. We estimate that Australia will be at least 70,000 welders short by 2030.

And yet, the number of welding trade workers in Australia dropped by 8 per cent in the course of just five years, and completion rates of welding apprenticeships continue to fall by as much as 23 per cent annually.

For this reason, Weld Australia has designed and created a suite of resources for delivery of the 12 welding and fabrication units of competency in the Manufacturing and Engineering (MEM) Training Package. Our goal is to help ensure that high-quality welder learning is consistent across the country.

Our resources help simplify the learning process for students, teachers and training institutes and—most importantly—place the student at centre of the learning process.

Weld Australia believes that a national industry, which has a national learning package, needs national learning resources. Whether you’re an apprentice in Kalgoorlie, Ultimo or Davenport, you should have access to the same, high-quality training.

How the resources were created

Weld Australia formed a national consortium of TAFEs to work on the project. Over the last two years, the consortium has collaborated with us to develop the most engaging, up-to-date resources possible.

Members of the consortium piloted use of the resources, and some TAFEs have already permanently adopted them.

South Metropolitan TAFE in Fremantle, Western Australia was the first training organisation to facilitate an official pilot. The feedback received from students and lecturers alike was extremely positive.

According to Jonathon Maile (Executive Director – Engineering, Transport and Defence, South Metropolitan TAFE), “The resources have been terrific, not only for our team here at South Metro TAFE, but we’ve also upheld these and shared these with some external customers as well. So from a  quality perspective, the resources have been tremendous.”

“Being able to link in with Weld Australia and other TAFEs, improved training outcomes—there is a better consistency from a technical perspective Australia-wide. It has improved our focus on digitisation and e-learning, and the increased the flexibility of how we deliver. We’re able to utilise these training resources in class to support lecturers. If apprentices miss classes, they can access the resources and catch up a lot more quickly than trying to reschedule another block later on.”

Brenda Micale (General Manager, Training Services at South Metropolitan TAFE) agreed. “The resources have improved our delivery across the fabrication area quite significantly. We’ve had some really great feedback from our industry partners too.”

“On our own, we could have developed an adequate suite of materials for the qualification. Through the national collaboration, we got a much higher quality resources. On a TAFE budget, we never could have got all the bells and whistles—the videos, the eLearning—it’s just financially out of our reach.”

“It’s great when I go out to Rockingham, the Thornley and Naval Base campuses where fabrication is taught and you can see apprentices engaging with the technology. They’re able to download it onto their mobile phones, they can play the videos, its interactive.”

A purpose built platform

The online platform that houses all the MEM resources is called Weldpool.

Weldpool is Weld Australia’s purpose-designed Moodle platform that integrates easily with your own Moodle, or a blackboard website. The purpose of Weldpool is to provide a simple user interface where student can find the resources they need as quickly as possible.

Weldpool helps ensure that the MEM resources are as flexible as possible. Students can use the platform to watch demonstrations before they get to class, or instructors can use the demonstrations as teaching aids during classes.

Online, accessible and engaging

The new MEM resources are completely online and accessible via phone, mobile device or computer. This allows students to access learning at the time, place and pace that suits them best. In one of our units, you can expect:

Theory presentations

Practical demonstrations

Written resources, including student and safety notes complete with hot tips, QR codes to access videos, and review questions

Online review quizzes, which are fuelled by a bank of multiple choice, short answer and interactive questions.

There are also Soldamatic specific presentations available, for facilities equipped with augmented reality simulators.

How Weld Australia’s MEM Resources can help

Weld Australia’s MEM Resources have been built with students, teachers and training organisations in mind. It reimagines the learning process with its user-friendly interface, diversified delivery methods, and audited and accurate material.

Benefits for Students

Anywhere, any time. The new resources are completely online and accessible via mobile device (like phones and tablets) or computer. This allows students to access learning at the time, place and pace that suits them best.

Easy to use. The platform on which all the resources are hosted features a simple, easy to navigate user interface where students can find what they need as quickly as possible.

Better use of on-campus time. With a comprehensive suite of resources at their fingertips, students can focus on developing their practical skills while on-campus, rather than reading through theory.

Unlimited access. Students have unlimited access to all resources, throughout their entire period of enrolment in the unit. This means students can go back and revise material if they need to.

Benefits for Teachers

Multiple delivery methods. There are multiple delivery methods available, including lock step, workplace delivery, institutional delivery, self-paced learning and distance learning. Every option is covered, for a flexible solution.

Avenues to provide regular feedback. Teachers can submit feedback which will be reviewed by Weld Australia’s team of experts and incorporated into the relevant resources as quickly as possible.

Save time. With a comprehensive suite of resources at their fingertips, teachers slash preparation and administration. Leaving more time to devote to students or reducing overall working hours.

Peace of mind. Teachers can rest assured that all units of competency are covered in full by the up-to-date suite of resources. Students will be fully prepared to pass exams and enter the workforce.

Benefits for Training Organisations

Cost savings. Organisations save costs on both the development and maintenance of resources. Resources will be reviewed annually and updated in line with latest technology and training packages.

Standardised. Training organisations can rest assured that all their teaching material is consistent across all their campuses, regardless of the staff involved.

Audited and accurate. All resources are fully mapped to the units of competency and independently audited by a team of experts. All resources have been vetted by a consortium of TAFEs nationally.

Easily integrated. The online platform that houses all the MEM resources is called Weldpool. Weldpool is a purpose-designed Moodle platform that integrates easily with your own Moodle, or a blackboard website. 

For further information about the new MEM resources, email training@weldaustralia.com.au

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