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Skills recognition, qualifications A starting point at Box Hill

The quarrying, surface mining and extractive industries in 2011 face a major challenge ? finding skilled labour to replace the ageing population and recruiting/training middle level managers.

Deloitte Australia?s mining leader, Tim Richards, noted in Deloitte?s third annual global mining report, Tracking the Trends 2011, that of all issues identified, the one of particular importance to Australia in coming years is the challenge of finding skilled labour to replace the ageing population. ?The industry simply cannot replace retiring workers fast enough,? he stated.

The Minerals Council of Australia data estimated that by 2020 the industry will need an additional labour force of 58,000 people to maintain current levels of production.

?Despite moves by executives to draw new workers to the industry, to enter into partnerships with educational institutions and to encourage higher levels of migrant or temporary employment, few of these activities are attracting the coveted 30- to 50-year-old generation to the industry, and ageing demographic issues are fast looming on the horizon,? said Tim Richards.

He further noted that it was the middle core of good managers who were needed to keep these mining operations going and developing.

Box Hill Institute (BHI) has a long and established history of working with and developing and delivering contextualised and targeted training solutions for the extractive industry. This year, BHI is introducing the new Resources and Infrastructure Industry (RII09) Training Package qualifications from Certificate II in Surface Extraction Operations through to the Advanced Diploma of Extractive Industries Management.

The programmes are structured to ensure that organisations are able to have their experienced operators trained and qualified in reduced time off the job, thus resulting in a considerable reduction in lost time production. This is of considerable benefit, particularly at the Certificate II and III operator level. Training is seen as the first step in progression in this industry and, with the training and certification, will minimise the risks of accident, injury and damage as well as reducing legal liability exposure by demonstrating compliance with OHS legislative requirements.

BHI works closely with SkillsDMC, the Industry Skills Council for the resources and infrastructure industry, in developing and analysing skills needs for all potential students. This analysis forms the basis of the design of the training programmes ensuring training needs are identified and individually targeted.

At the end of 2010, BHI hosted an Extractive Advisory Committee Forum. Industry representatives were invited to attend this forum and participate in the planning for the implementation of the new RII09 Training Package and the structure and content of the courses BHI was proposing. The industry response was excellent with representation from both minor and major quarrying industry operators and the government regulator. The forum included presentations to showcase what Box Hill can deliver to the extractive industries.

Currently, BHI is commencing Certificate III training for two of Boral?s regional Victorian quarries for all employees. New Boral Metro employees will also commence training in the first quarter of 2011. This will see a continuation of Boral Resources? commitment to their employees and every employee will receive appropriate levels of training as soon as practicable.

In 2010, Boral Metro employees were awarded accredited Certificate III in Surface Extraction Operations, which was an outstanding achievement by all of the employees who participated in the training sessions. Their sense of purpose and commitment made the job of the BHI trainers and assessors both an enjoyable and rewarding experience.

The Boral managers played a very important role in supporting the workers through their training, as well as ensuring that productivity was maintained. They are to be commended for their efforts and consideration.

BHI trainers and assessors, as well as centre manager Jane Sims, attended the on-site qualification presentations for the Boral students. It was rewarding to see the pride of the recipients displayed as they were called up to receive the award for which they had worked so hard.

The Alex Fraser Group will see completion of the full Certificate II and III qualifications for all its employees at its three Metro Melbourne sites by April 2011. Training under the Commonwealth-funded productivity places and traineeships programme commenced in the first quarter of 2010 and has been very successful. The partnership with Jobs Plus, the Australian Apprenticeship Centre based at BHI, has provided the Alex Fraser Group with a seamless administrative process, supporting the trainees and ensuring the employer receives the financial incentive payments from the Government in a timely fashion.

As with the Boral training, the students from the Alex Fraser sites were enthusiastic about the chance to enhance their existing skills and knowledge and expand their horizons in areas previously not in their job function. The trainers and assessors at BHI are extremely confident that the next couple of months will be as smooth and productive as last year for the Alex Fraser students and look forward to issuing them their qualifications.

Interest in the BHI qualifications at Certificate II and III level is intensifying as more organisations are recognising the benefits of having a fully trained workforce far outweigh the issues that arise from trying to conduct operations with skilled but untrained and unqualified workers. The added benefit is, of course, the traineeship programmes with the incentive payments available to employers from the Commonwealth Government.

Twenty-three students completed their Certificate IV in Extractive Industries at Box Hill in 2010. BHI ran two groups to minimise disruption to participating companies, as well as increasing the overall benefit to the students with smaller class sizes and flexibility to attend different classes.

As a result, students had the opportunity to attend the Units of Competency being delivered during any given month.

All students performed very well and contributed a vast amount of knowledge and information to the training sessions. The workshops provided students with the opportunity to consider supervisory models and techniques based on what they saw from different organisations. The BHI trainers guided the sessions, focusing on the development of both operational and supervisory skill development.  

BHI?s Certificate IV in Extractive Industries Operations student Dru Oxley, of Fulton Hogan?s Tynong Quarry in Victoria, won the IQA?s Alex Northover Award last year for the best presented Certificate IV portfolio of evidence.

The Institute supports this long-standing memorial award which is designed for the demonstration of the student?s ability to put together a working document that showcases their workplace/operational site against the selected competencies to gain the Supervisors Award.

Dru was featured in the September issue of Quarry as an up and coming participant of the IQA?s Young Members Network. Dru?s portfolio of evidence raised the level of the presentation format with a document that can form part of the company?s professional library resource.

Chris Terry and Noel Pickering, the co-ordinators of BHI?s Surface Mining Unit, state that the quarrying industry recognises the critical need for training and skill development in this growing and increasingly complex industry and BHI is meeting this challenge not only in the development and delivery of these formal accredited qualifications but also in the content development of the programmes.

?The focus in the training delivery for the industry used to be on just skill recognition and awarding a qualification on the basis of assessing current skills,? Chris said.

Jane Sims, the centre manager of BHI?s Centre for Industry, Education and Training, added ?that while skills recognition is an important part of any programme, BHI uses the skills recognition process as a starting point, not an end point, and develops the programme based on what participants already know and then moves forward with a learning plan to take participants to the next step in their professional development and career planning?.

This year, BHI is offering and delivering both the Diploma of Surface Operations Management and the Advanced Diploma of Extractive Industries Management nationally. The Diploma of Surface Operations Management has been designed in recognition that in order to operate a quarry there is a need for significant leadership and management skills along with sound operational knowledge.

In response to the skill requirements, BHI has refocused the Diploma for quarry managers. The programme has been designed to focus on the management challenges of operations in a surface mining operation. Participants who come into the course have considerable hands-on experience in quarry operations and are ready to step up into leadership and management roles. The Diploma is offered in two-day and three-day blocks every month and is designed to be completed over a period of 10 months.

Feedback from participants involved in the Diploma course in 2010 has been very positive, with several stating that they found particularly valuable the opportunity to workshop with other students from various organisations in the industry, sharing and learning from each other. They found it very valuable and interesting to learn how other businesses did things and discuss other ways of operating.

The Advanced Diploma of Extractive Industries Management is also being offered again nationally by BHI this year. At this advanced level, the programme will be largely based on research and project work; the structure will be negotiable to ensure the content meets the needs of the participants.

The Advanced Diploma reflects the role of personnel working in a quarry or other extractive industries operations who perform tasks that are broad, specialised, complex and technical and include strategic areas and initiating activities. These people are likely to be responsible for the establishment of the site management systems, plans and policies and are required to demonstrate self-directed application of theoretical and technical knowledge and initiate solutions to technical problems or management requirements.

The programme is designed for people managing at the owner/operator level or at the corporate level in the quarrying and extractive industry. The programme will address the business activities, management systems and operational technical issues needed at the strategic and tactical end of the organisation enterprise.

In 2010, Tom Melvin, an asphalt plant technical manager at Boral Deer Park, gained his Advanced Diploma of Laboratory Operations through BHI. Tom demonstrated excellence in all aspects of strategic planning,management and operations. The assessmentprocess for workplace-based programmes takes up to 18 months to complete.

An important feature of the BHI?s courses is its long-established close links with industry. These links have provided up to date advice about the content and structure of the courses, along with access to support and advice from the IQA and industry practitioners and experts.

While formal qualifications are an important aspect of the BHI?s training offerings, they are only part of the story. BHI also works closely with the industry to develop and deliver a range of short courses, eg in Work Safely & Local Risk Control, Conduct Crushing Operations, Conduct Screening Operations, Conduct Blending Plant Operations, Conduct Crushing and Screening Plant Operations and Shot Firing Refresher courses.  

BHI maintains its position with WorkSafe Victoria for assessment only, for trained persons who wish to gain their shot firing licence for above or below ground blasting activities. The assessor carries out a practical assessment on-site during a normal quarry operations production blast. The person will have had to meet WorkSafe?s requirements prior to being assessed. The endorsement of a shot firing licence can then be issued.

Jane Sims explained how BHI contributed to the IQA?s Professional Development Programme by delivering the Slope Stability course which encompassed the analysis of static and dynamic stability of slopes of earth and rock-fill dams, slopes of other types of embankments, excavated slopes, and natural slopes in soil and soft rock. These workshops are offered nationally.

Jane added that 2011 was shaping up to be a very full year for the Extractive Unit at BHI. Boral Resources is again leading the way in the training of its employees and have contracted BHI to deliver the Certificate IV in Surface Extraction Operations to all supervisors on a national level. Training commenced at the beginning of February in Sydney and in the third week of February in Brisbane. New South Wales has 13 students attending the Sydney sessions and Queensland has 19 students attending the Brisbane sessions. Everyone from students, managers, Boral and the BHI trainers are excited about this programme as it is a fantastic opportunity for all involved.

BHI has designed all courses to integrate into a nationally accredited qualification. Jane indicated that these courses could be undertaken in full or specific skill sets that could be studied to address specific training needs. This provides exciting and flexible opportunities for participants.

BHI has strategically expanded the range of programmes on offer to reflect industry consultation and engagement and has established the Extractive Industries Advisory Group Forum with industry stakeholders from quarries, DPI, SkillsDMC and peak bodies including the IQA and the CMPA. The 2011 Advisory Group Forum Meeting is to be scheduled for the latter half of 2011.

Source: Box Hill Institute

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