TAFE college lecturers well placed to meet industry skills needs

  • State Government delivers on $9.9 million TAFE lecturer industry placement program
  • Mining group Rio Tinto among industry partners providing placements for lecturers
  • Program keeping WA TAFEs at the forefront of innovation and quality training
  • Insights helping to align training to industry skills and workforce needs

The State Government's record investment in TAFE is continuing through delivery of a $9.9 million election commitment that is connecting Western Australian TAFE college lecturers with first-hand experience of industry's skills and workforce needs through industry placements.

The 'TAFE College Lecturers Industry Placement Program' is providing lecturers from across the State with opportunities to immerse themselves in contemporary industry practice so they can take these valuable insights back to their TAFE colleges to prepare the future workforce.

A total of 428 lecturers participated in the industry placements across the five WA TAFE colleges in 2022 and 2023. Participation in the program increased to 301 in 2023, from 127 in 2022.

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

Rio Tinto has also hosted NM TAFE lecturer placements at its Yandicoogina (Yandi) iron ore mine in the Pilbara, with a total of three placements completed at both sites by the end of 2023.

NM TAFE lecturer Monique Taaffe delivers the Certificate II in Autonomous Workplace Operations, as a VET delivered to Secondary Students program. Monique said that completing her placement at Rio Tinto's Operations Centre broadened her understanding of how automation is embedded across the business, and fostered industry connections that will benefit her students.

"I gained exposure to extensive areas of the business which gave me a better understanding of the mining industry supply chain," said Ms Taaffe. "I also made new industry connections which may facilitate site excursions for students this year."

Adrian Fallon, a NM TAFE Electrical Instrumentation lecturer, says his work placement at two of Rio Tinto's Operation Centres gave him an insight into how the remote operations team relates to the first responders on site.

"I was keen to identify how our course training documents related to current industry policies and procedures, particularly in relation to safety, troubleshooting and process optimisation," said Mr Fallon. "I'm looking forward to sharing my learnings with my students who are all first responders on site."

The 'TAFE College Lecturer Industry Placement Program' prioritises placements in industries experiencing rapid or complex changes such as new technologies and changing work practices, skills shortage areas, and industries with significant growth or opportunities for economic diversification.

With the use of digital technologies increasing, lecturers can experience the latest advancements, technologies, methods, systems, and practices operating within real-life industry settings.

More information on training opportunities is on the Jobs and Skills WA website jobsandskills.wa.gov.au.

Comments attributed to Training and Workforce Development Minister Simone McGurk:

"Training is vital in creating skilled workers to support local businesses and communities, and keeping Western Australia's economy strong.

"The best way we can train the staff we need is to have quality lecturers with up-to-date industry experience. The State Government's investment in industry placements for lecturers helps ensure this happens. 

"The program is a great example of TAFEs and industry working together to prepare the State's future workforce.

"As an example, WA TAFE colleges work closely with the mining industry to provide training for paraprofessionals, apprentices, and trainees that leads to real jobs in the mining and resources industry.

"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."

Comments attributed to Rio Tinto Vice President People, Matt Kimball:

"These lecturers are teaching the next generation of workers who might join our business, and help us find better ways to provide the materials the world needs.

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

"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."