Imagine the effect on productivity if your electrical engineer had an A-Grade licence to work on the installation, commissioning, and maintenance of electrical technologies safely and legally. Or if your A-Grade electricians had the training and understanding to work with continually advancing complex electrical equipment & technology.
People who have achieved an A-Grade licence through an apprenticeship and go on to complete an electrical engineering degree are already working in the industry, but they are rare beasts. It takes on average four years to complete an electrical apprenticeship and a further four years to complete an engineering degree. Eight years of studying is a challenge for anybody.
Compounding the challenge of long study times is often a critical selection made by a young student around year 9 or 10 to undertake STEM subjects like maths methods and physics that are prerequisites for engineering degrees or to choose subjects that better align with apprenticeships. Many electrical tradespeople commenced their apprenticeship because they were interested in practical hands-on work and less interested in or less capable of working with highly complex technologies. Conversely, many who follow the STEM requirements of engineering degrees are more interested in working with or designing complex technologies than developing manual skills.
As electrical systems become more complex, interconnected, automated, and digitised there is a growing requirement for skilled persons to be capable of working from the initial power source to the interconnected automation system through to the digitisation of critical information and all electrical devices in-between – this is the basis of a smart connected enterprise which converges plant-level and enterprise networks which securely connects people, processes, and technologies together.
What if there were a program that combines the two qualifications, and enables a person to graduate with an engineering degree and an A grade electrical licence in a much shorter timeframe, whilst still meeting all the statutory and accreditation requirements? Similar to the days of the cadetship. This proposed Degree Apprenticeship model would provide a school leaver with immediate employment, an apprentice wage, the ability to apply their apprenticeship and degree studies to their workplace and add value to their employer from day one. We believe this might be attractive enough for forward-thinking STEM capable school leavers to put their hands up.
AiGCET has been working with NHP Electrical Engineering Products (www.nhp.com.au) and other industry partners to explore opportunities to develop such a program. Thankfully we are not pioneers in this space. The University of Newcastle developed a pilot in collaboration with Hunter TAFE. It mapped the skills learnt in both qualifications to teach and assess against both in a shorter timeframe. Plus, it included the work experience needed to satisfy the licensing requirements.
Our aim is to negotiate similar arrangements in other states; starting in Victoria but hoping to include other states in due course. We have commenced discussions with education providers who might be willing to take on the challenge, but the first thing we need to demonstrate is demand for the program.
Is this a program that might interest your company? Are you interested in joining the discussions?
If you would like more information or are interested in apprenticing a person who signs onto the program, contact Peter Canavan at firstname.lastname@example.org.