This month, the Ai Group Centre for Education and Training is spotlighting SAGE Automation, a company that featured in the Centre’s Skills for a cleaner future: Building the workforce for a clean economy report, released in February.

SAGE Automation is an engineering company that has been providing smart manufacturing and automation solutions for businesses for nearly three decades. With offices across Australia and a team of more than 720 specialists, SAGE has built a reputation for leading the design, delivery and support of industrial and electrical control systems.

In recent years, SAGE has increased its focus on upskilling and broadening the exposure of its engineers to emerging clean energy challenges, in response to growing customer demand for clean economy solutions (particularly clean energy) that connect to and build on existing control systems and machinery. 

Although the core skills of their engineers remain founded in automation and control, there has been a coordinated effort to upskill the workforce and teams servicing clean energy and net zero projects and clients. This has focused primarily on the regulatory and system specific challenges or “gotchas” that come with projects feeding into the grid.

“We’ve noticed short term spikes in our upskilling need when we started on new clean energy projects, particularly a recent project we delivered with South Australia Water and the Zero Cost Energy Future plan. To deliver these large-scale projects and solve new clean energy problems, we collaborate with our experienced talent to identify the types of training or recruitment we need to explore.”

– Danny Smith, Head of Business Development, SAGE Automation

A number of their clients have installed renewable energy sources such as rooftop solar and battery systems to their buildings. Through their experience and expertise with these systems, SAGE engineers have developed data analytics tools that draw upon both plant and market information (such as the spot prices of energy and the periodic inflow of incentives throughout the day) to increase the efficiency of these. This expertise allowed SAGE’s clients not only to reduce their demand from the grid, but to extract maximum value form their investment in new sources of energy.  

Developing these market leading solutions and reliable expertise is the result of an organisational commitment to prioritise learning and development for in-house talent.  

The People and Culture function of the business is tasked with ensuring that their workforce (across all levels from entry level technicians to senior leaders) are consistently developing their skills, knowledge and capabilities in the specific contexts needed to meet client expectations and company standards. This is a key focus of their recruitment and staff retention strategy to attract and retain high performing engineers. 

SAGE has a 70/20/10 approach to learning and development. This means its workforce is provided with challenging new work where 70% of the learning occurs through on the job experience. 20% is provided through direct engagement with leaders and one on one mentoring. The remaining 10% is achieved through formal training programs. This approach to learning and development has enabled the business to continually develop in house talent through consistently updating skills, particularly in the emerging clean energy space. This allows them to meet evolving demand from clients for clean energy solutions and deliver on their purpose of creating a Smarter Future, Better World.   

You can read the full Skills for a Cleaner Future report here