Energy Skills Australia CEO Mark Burgess recently embarked on an international tour to learn what other countries are prioritising as we globally trend towards decarbonisation and a renewable energy future.
As part of the tour Mark visited six industry owned training centres, a collaboration between the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), across San Diego, Los Angeles and Chicago.
The NetZero Plus Electrical Training Insitute in Los Angeles and the In Tech Technical Institute in Chicago are clear leaders in the field of electrical and renewable energy training. The apprenticeship program is five years as opposed to a nominal four-year duration in Australia.
“The thing that impressed me the most about the training centres was the ability of industry to be the leaders for creation and adoption of products through technological advancements. Through partnerships with universities and manufacturers, they are able be proactive and versatile in training electricians of the future, whilst still maintaining the core fundamentals of electrical training.” Examples of this include the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Training Program, which provides an avenue to standardised certification for workers and contractors.
The NetZero Plus Electrical Training Institute is also trialling the use of Direct Current lighting systems, including in the facilities auditorium as a further way to increase energy efficiency throughout the complex.
Mark also got to visit some worksites such as Universal Studios in Hollywood who are in the process of upgrading their fleet of diesel trams to electric. The trams are charged using large induction pads while passengers embark and disembark. In a little over three minutes, the trams are charged enough to complete another circuit of the studio tour. Given the fast-charging nature of the fleet, the trams are then trickle charged overnight to ensure longevity of the batteries. The program is a step towards decarbonisation, but also provides a far better consumer experience with no diesel fumes or noise confronting passengers on the tour.
In Chicago, Mark also had the opportunity to tour the research and development facility of global electrical and network infrastructure company Panduit.
After Chicago, Mark headed to Vancouver Canada for the Global Power Trade Union Conference. A common theme throughout the conference was quality training of workers to meet the green transition as well as maintaining licensing systems. Skills shortages were also discussed globally as was skilled migration and ensuring local quality assurance systems are strengthened through partnerships.
Mark was grateful for the opportunity to attend and present to the conference the Australian perspective on skilling for a clean economy.
“It was a jam-packed itinerary, but a fantastic opportunity to see how other countries are dealing with the same challenges that Australia is facing through skills shortages, meeting technological advancements of products and training for the renewables industry.”