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Training the Next Generation to Work in the Emerging Battery Industry

VW battery pack details


In a forward thinking move, the South Metropolitan TAFE on behalf of the Future Battery Industries Cooperative Research Centre (FBICRC) has cooperated with 70 participants across government, industry, and research to analyse and assess the vocational skills gaps that need to be filled in order to prepare the workforce of the future. 

The FBICRC asked South Metro TAFE WA to conduct the skills gap analysis because South Metro TAFE manages most of the engineering and automotive fields. They were most familiar with the content, although North Metro has a good background in automation and software. The FRICRC report states:

Battery value chain industries were analysed from mining through to refining and processing, battery cell manufacturing, battery energy storage system (BESS) manufacturing, BESS deployment, electric vehicle servicing, electric vehicle supply equipment manufacturing and installation and lithium-ion battery recycling.

Although many training packages remain current, the nature of future batteries in terms of their chemistry, the purity of the materials required, the new technologies required for production as well as the new technologies they represent and enable, means that there are areas where new vocational skills and knowledge are needed.

“This plan represents an important foundational step to creating employment pathways to deliver financial prosperity for our young people,” said the FBICRC’s new Chief Executive Officer Shannon O’Rourke.

The Government of Western Australia writes:

The analysis found most skills needed by workers in future battery industries are covered by current TAFE (Technical and Further Education) packages, but identified some new training units were required to cater for new jobs. These include:

    • skills to maintain automation systems;
    • artificial intelligence and big data;
    • electrical and mechanical skills;
    • skills for first responders, electricians and mechanics trained in electric vehicles and battery energy storage systems; and
    • new skills for recycling facility workers in the safe handling of lithium-ion batteries.

[…]

With demand for batteries set to increase 10-fold in the next decade, the plan identifies which national training package qualifications cover the vocational skills and knowledge needed in Australia’s future battery industries.

Future Battery Industries adds:

The FBICRC’s portfolio of 15 research projects span the battery value chain and brings together 70 industry participants, the federal government, four state governments in WA, QLD, SA and NT and eight universities who represent a collective investment worth more than $120 million over six years.

Although it is difficult to forecast the demand for workers in the emerging battery industry, it is expected that it may be a challenge to attract workers from mining and oil and gas industries to move into battery refining, processing, and precursor production.

Readers may like to refer to a webinar hosted by Australian Electric Vehicles Association where there is a discussion about the skills gap. The webinar is with Shannon O’Rourke and Graham Cawley from the MTA WA (an industry group stakeholder and also a large private RTO who trains apprentices in the automotive world).

This preparation of the workforce aligns with Western Australia’s determination to move up the value chain from exporting raw materials to actually producing the battery end products.

Featured image courtesy of Volkswagen.

 

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