What they do
Polymer factory workers operate the machinery and carry out other routine duties in factories manufacturing plastics, rubber, adhesives and/or other polymer products. Polymers are used in the manufacture of a wide range of products, including tyres, stationary, sporting equipment and adhesives. Much of the work in manufacturing plants is automated and computer-controlled, with polymer factory workers responsible for setting up these machines and monitoring their performance using gauges and computer displays. They are also responsible for feeding in raw materials and checking the finished products for faults, such as cracks, burns, discolouration and other defects. In some cases they may pack products for shipping.
Most polymer manufacturing operations in Western Australia are located in the Perth metropolitan region. These factories can be noisy, warm and in some cases noxious fumes may be released in the manufacturing process. Protective clothing, such as overalls, safety glasses and masks, is often required. Polymer factory workers may be required to stand for long periods, and some bending and lifting may also be required. Shift work is common in this industry and may include working nights and on weekends.
Tools and technologies
The specific machinery used in a polymer factory may vary, depending on the type of product being manufactured. Machinery may be used for tasks such as melting raw materials, injecting molten plastic into moulds, shaping a product by blowing air into it and for packing finished products. In some cases, polymer factory workers may use small hand and power tools, as well as measuring equipment, such as scales and tape measures, and other quality control equipment.
How do I become one?
Education and training
It is possible to work as a polymer factory worker without any formal qualifications and get training on the job.
You can also undertake a traineeship in plastics or rubber. There is a wide range of relevant traineeships, including plastics (level 2 or level 3), plastics – fabrication (level 2 or level 3), rubber (level 2 or level 3), plastics – injection moulding (level 2 or level 3), process manufacturing (rubber – injection moulding) (level 2 and level 3). You could also undertake a more general traineeship in process manufacturing (level 2 or level 3).
The traineeships usually take 12 to 24 months to complete, and the level 2 traineeships are available as school-based traineeships.
Entry into this occupation may also be improved by obtaining a qualification in process manufacturing or a related area.
The Certificate II and Certificate III in Process Manufacturing are offered at TAFE colleges and other registered training providers throughout Western Australia. Browse courses through Jobs and Skills WA and search on the My Skills website to find a registered provider near you.
Apprenticeships and traineeships
As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer, enabling you to complete training towards a nationally recognised qualification. You spend time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider.
You can do an apprenticeship or traineeship if you are a school-leaver, re-entering the workforce or as an adult or mature-aged person wishing to change careers. You can even begin your apprenticeship or traineeship while you're still at school.
If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.