A Queensland pathway program offering industry access to employees with a dual electrical qualification starts in July. 

Facilitated by the Australian Industry Group, in partnership with TAFE Queensland and the University of Southern Queensland, the streamlined pathway incorporates an electrical apprenticeship that includes the Certificate III in Electrotechnology Electrician (UEE3082) and leads to an Electrical Mechanic licence with a Bachelor of Engineering Technology (Electrical & Electronic Engineering).  

Candidates complete the combined knowledge and skills across both qualifications at the same time within six years instead of 12 years.

Project Lead Rosemary Potter, of Ai Group, said: “In the area of industrial electricals, employers want the technical skills of an electrician and the higher-level knowledge of the engineer. 

“However, attracting this talent is difficult, so Ai Group, as an employer association, is doing all we can to facilitate new talent pipelines.” 

In its Clean Energy Generation: Workforce Needs for Net Zero Economy paper last year, Jobs and Skills Australia identified the initial need for between 26,000 and 42,000 more electricians in the next seven years, with more over the period to 2050.   


The recruitment net for the Queensland pathway program is being cast wide: participating employers can advertise for candidates themselves or recruit through the Ai Group Apprentice and Trainee Centre (Ai Group ATC). 

Ai Group shares with candidates any ads employers place to maximise the chance of positions being filled.  

Recruitment is active for employers and employees for the first cohort in July and marketing is underway to attract a second cohort of school leavers to start in January 2025. 

The first cohort will comprise a mix of candidates: mature-age employees looking for a career change, existing apprentices and university students. 

It is important candidates are aware they need to have completed Year 12 maths, preferably Maths Methods. 

Online ‘matchmaking’  

Once the two pools of employers and employees are established, Ms Potter plans to run an online event to best match them. 

“The employer will get two to three minutes to pitch themselves to the candidates, then the candidates will have the opportunity to introduce themselves,” she said. 

Overcoming the great VET-university divide  

A similar type of qualification has been running in Europe, particularly in the UK and Germany, with much success for the past six years. 

“The problem we have in Australia is a division between VET and universities,” Ms Potter said. 

“The same division exists in schools, with students encouraged to either go down the VET pathway or to higher education. 

“This qualification is more suited to those considering university, owing to the high level of maths needed — but instead of going straight to university, we want them to take this pathway. 

“We need to convince parents and teachers of the benefits of this pathway. 

“Parents are the biggest influencers in this space.” 

Best of both worlds 

The benefits of the dual electrical qualification are compelling. 

“To parents, I say: ‘Upon graduating, students who take the university-only path lack the practical application industry wants and needs’,” Ms Potter says. 

“Industry says it takes two or three years to make graduates useful; they're all good in theory, not so in practical. 

“Also, they end up with a big HECS debt. 

“By taking this pathway, they get the best of both worlds: industry experience and theory. And, of course, they’re being paid the whole time. 

“At the end of the qualification, they’ll be getting paid at a higher level as a tradesperson than they would as a graduate.” 

Show me the money  

An engineering graduate employed by a large electrical company would start on about $80,000. 

A newly qualified electrician working for the same large commercial company would start on about $120,000 — plus extras. 

“It’s more like $150,000-$160,000,” Ms Potter said. 

“That's for a standard 38-hour week.” 

Employer commitment pays off 

While employers benefit by obtaining an electrical engineer in six years rather than 12, they are asked to commit to 20 per cent of paid off-job hours for the six years to enable the candidate to complete both qualifications. 

This commitment results in higher completion and retention rates, BAE Systems and Babcock International said at a recent Ai Group webinar. 

“I am a great believer in workplace learning — it’s the best way to learn,” Ms Potter said. 

For further information about the Queensland Electrical Dual Qualification, employers and candidates can contact Ms Potter or visit the Ai Group ATC.  

Wendy Larter

Wendy Larter is Communications Manager at the Australian Industry Group. She has more than 20 years’ experience as a reporter, features writer, contributor and sub-editor for newspapers and magazines including The Courier-Mail in Brisbane and Metro, the News of the World, The Times and Elle in the UK.