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Unique Training Program at NMIT for Power Industry

20 Aug 2007

As a secondary school student in Tasmania, Nathan Allie didn't enjoy studying and left school at 15 to become an electrician.

Now, 12 years later, he's back in the classroom at the Heidelberg campus of Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE (NMIT) undertaking studies of an altogether different kind, in a different city and with a different perspective.

Nathan, 27, of Hobart, is one of six trainees from Tasmania's power companies who generate and transmit electricity across the state, studying at NMIT in the Advanced Diploma of Electrical Power Systems. NMIT is the only TAFE institute in Australia to offer this intensive, specialist, training program.

The trainees attend NMIT one week every month in a program designed to be completed over four years.

The program focuses on electrical theory to understand how electric devices behave as well as control and protection systems used in a power network.

The qualification enables the trainees to work as technical officers where they would be responsible for the maintenance of protection and control equipment.

NMIT teacher Craig Jones said NMIT was approached a couple of years ago by the Tasmanian companies as NMIT was involved with the development of the national training package which has been implemented this year. It is the first time NMIT has been able to offer training to interstate employees.

'The program the trainees are undertaking involves 40 hours of classwork in the attendance weeks with assignments to be completed when they are back in Tasmania,' Craig said.

'The theory-based work is coordinated with their on-the-job experience in Tasmania.'

Craig added that NMIT has offered this specialist training to Victorian power industry employees since 2002 and that as a highly-specialised program, it is designed to meet the skill shortage for qualified technical officers in the power industry.

Nathan, who has worked for Hydro Tasmania in Hobart since 2004 as an electrician where his responsibilities included wiring up protection systems, said his training program at NMIT was 'a real bonus' that offered him enhanced employment opportunities as a technical officer.

In that role, he would move on to being responsible for testing of protection devices within the power network.

'Given that I never enjoyed studying, I'm surprised to be here at NMIT now, and although it's hard work with all the maths I have to learn, I'm enjoying it and knew I needed the formal training to move ahead,' Nathan said.

He added it was an intensive five days at NMIT, and initially, he was fidgety about sitting in a classroom again after so many years without studying.

'It's pretty full-on and the week's packed with study but I've got used to it now and coming over to Melbourne is a nice change and breaks up my work routine at home.'

Moreover, he said, studying at NMIT was very different to secondary school, even the trades school he attended as an apprentice electrician because he's now treated as an adult and takes it a lot more seriously.

Nathan said he welcomed studying in Melbourne as it was a city he had visited many times as he was an avid Essendon football club supporter.

Nathan said he never expected to be anything other than an electrician and didn't know there was even such a job as a technical officer until he started his employment with Hydro Tasmania.

'I thought I'd just stick at being an electrician but now I've got many more opportunities and it's great.'

 

Interview / Photo Opportunity

Media enquiries should be directed to the NMIT Communications Officer, James Gardener, on (03) 92691579, 0413 483 182 or jamesgardener@nmit.vic.edu.au

NMIT (Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE) - Situated on seven campuses and six training centres throughout Melbourne's north, NMIT delivers vocational training, higher education and lifelong learning capabilities for a global workforce. NMIT forges partnerships with community, industry and government to produce practical, solution orientated graduates capable of making meaningful contributions to their chosen field of endeavour.