WA’s TAFE lecturers Immerse in industry placements to address skills gap

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The Western Australian Government has earmarked $9.9 million to facilitate industry placements for TAFE college lecturers, allowing them to gain firsthand insight into the skills and workforce requirements of various industries.

Dubbed ‘TAFE College Lecturers Industry Placement Program,’ the initiative is poised to equip lecturers from various regions of the state with immersive experiences in contemporary industry practices.

These experiences enable them to bring valuable insights back to their TAFE colleges, preparing the future workforce to meet industry demands effectively, the government said in a media statement.

In 2022 and 2023, a total of 428 lecturers participated in industry placements across the five WA TAFE colleges.

Notably, participation surged to 301 in 2023, marking a significant increase from 127 in 2022.

Minister for Training and Workforce Development Simone McGurk recently visited Rio Tinto’s Perth Operations Centre near Perth Airport, where several lecturers from North Metropolitan TAFE (NM TAFE) completed placements to gain insights into the company’s autonomous operations.

Rio Tinto extended its support by hosting NM TAFE lecturers at its Yandicoogina (Yandi) iron ore mine in the Pilbara. By the end of 2023, three placements had been completed at both sites.

Monique Taaffe, an NM TAFE lecturer delivering the Certificate II in Autonomous Workplace Operations, emphasised the benefits of her placement at Rio Tinto’s Operations Centre.

She noted that the experience broadened her understanding of automation and facilitated industry connections beneficial for her students’ learning.

“I gained exposure to extensive areas of the business which gave me a better understanding of the mining industry supply chain,” Taaffe remarked.

“I also made new industry connections which may facilitate site excursions for students this year,” she added.

Similarly, Adrian Fallon, an NM TAFE Electrical Instrumentation lecturer, shared his insights from placements at Rio Tinto’s Operation Centres.

He highlighted the relevance of aligning course training documents with industry policies and procedures, particularly in safety and troubleshooting, for the benefit of his students, who are all first responders on site.

Minister McGurk emphasised the crucial role of training in fostering skilled workers to support local businesses and communities, thereby strengthening Western Australia’s economy.

She highlighted the importance of having quality lecturers with current industry experience to effectively train the necessary staff, underscoring the State Government’s investment in industry placements for lecturers to ensure this outcome.

“Industry-relevant training and hands-on experiences help to ensure students receive the best possible preparation for the workplace and future careers in the industry,” the minister noted.

Rio Tinto Vice President People, Matt Kimball, underscored the significance of these lecturers in educating the next generation of workers who may join their business, and in improving the provision of essential materials to meet global demands.

“The program ensures lecturers remain connected and up-to-date with the latest technology and industry practices and share this knowledge with their students.”

He added, “This enables our business to hire people with the relevant information and skills, and for students to get the most from their studies and kick-start their careers.”

For more information on training opportunities, visit the Jobs and Skills WA website.