Federal plastics technician skills shortage and polymer processing/technology apprenticeship priority

The Federal Government initiated a review of data collections for jobs, occupations and skills shortages, using new analytical software and real-world auditing to validate the results. This is good news for the “invisible” plastics industry, as we finally have real published data on which to base Government training assistance and business decisions. The 2023 Jobs and Skills Australia Priority List (ANZSCO 2022) now lists the 399916 Plastics Technician as being in a skills shortage (S), and the 2023 Australian Apprenticeship Priority List shows Plastics Technician with its three qualifications, being:

  • PMB30121 Certificate III in Polymer Processing;
  • PMB40121 Certificate IV in Polymer Technology; and
  • PMB50121 Diploma of Polymer Technology.

In Queensland, the PMB30121 and PMB40121 qualifications cover all of the Government-funded plastics apprenticeships like Composites Technician, Extrusion Technician and Injection Moulding Technician.

Rodger Wolfe Achievement Award: Update

The special bank account for this award now stands at $5,600 thanks to some generous donors. The award will be made to PARTEC Composites Technician apprentices with achievements in marine composites. Graeme Margetts, composites trainer at PARTEC Institute will manage the selection for this year, being the inaugural presentation of this award and a memorial to Roger Wolfe and his devotion to composites in boatbuilding.

Good news for all of our Plastics Industry Apprenticeships

The old financial incentives system is obsolete and now all financial assistance for employers based on wage subsidies.

Employers can claim 10% of wages paid to the Australian Apprentice for the first and second 12-month period (up to $1,500 per quarter) and 5% of the wages paid to the Australian Apprentice for the third 12-month period (up to $750 per quarter).

The Australian Apprentice must be undertaking Certificate III or above qualification with an occupational outcome as listed on the Australian Apprenticeships Priority List, and so I have checked this list and noted that this now means that all of the Queensland Plastics Industry Apprenticeships based on PMB40121 Certificate IV Polymer Technology, and PMB30121 Certificate III Polymer Processing are now therefore eligible for this funding assistance.

These are, of course, all the plastics apprenticeships listed with graduates to-date on the Plastics-ITC website, and the Federal Government is now able to collect statistics for the Plastics Technician Occupation which is now also a declared “shortage” (at last).

To check further on your eligibility and for more information about applying, contact the provider person who arranged the “sign-up” for your apprentice(s) (NB they get paid to do this for you).

Assisting neurosensor finalist in Queensland and National bionics prize

QP-ITC and PARTEC are collaborating with Casey Pfluger are collaborating in this project regarding plastics product design and other assistance.

They are finalist in Bionics Challenge 2021 (Bionics Queensland). The final product will be prototyped at PARTEC and go to a local moulder.

Cortex Brainwave Technologies is developing a high-quality ‘tuneable’ medical sensor that utilises both fNIRS and EEG and far exceeds the capability of any standalone EEG or NIR sensor on the market. The development of consumer, portable and user-friendly brain-computer-interfaces (BCI) is dependent on both sensors and the hardware. Monitoring of home-based patients using self-applied sensing systems is one of the most challenging applications of wearable sensing and is plagued with motion artefacts, interoperability issues, interference (EEG) & data quality.

When combined with wearables for IoT systems, they face the problems of unreliable mobile data networks, power/battery management issues as well as false positives and negatives. The combined problems make the use of EEG-based medical sensors unsuitable for many medical scenarios. With substantial challenges impeding the performance of existing BCI implementations, Cortex is developing a new comfortable, convenient, and high quality NIR sensor.

The initial use case for the Cortex Neurosensor will be a home-based neurofeedback therapy using a portable BCI headset for the almost 1 in 5 Australians affected by brain disorders such as acquired brain injury, learning disabilities, stroke, ADHD and autism. To date, there have been limited therapeutic interventions available and a significant social and economic cost involved for affected individuals and their family members. The team is inspired by the personal experiences of the Neurosensor inventor and his young daughter.

PARTEC ramps up composites training to meet unprecedented demand

In a heartening turnaround, PARTEC – the plastics training, education and technology centre at Mt Gravatt in QLD – is now training 60 composite technicians for composites manufacturing/fabricating companies that make an array of componentry including tanks, truck parts, bridge beams and cross arms and bus panels. Roger Cater, PARTEC CEO, advised that this is the biggest intake the centre has ever had. ‘Well trained skilled technicians are in great demand. They contribute to our industry’s productivity and can make the difference between step change and business as usual’, says Roger.

One of its biggest customers is the luxury boat builder, Riviera which has flagged that it needs an additional 90 people to fulfil its order book. In addition to the apprenticeship program, PARTEC is doing short (4 day) courses that comprise of hand laminating, mould prep and safe operation of power tools (diamond saws and buffing) to train job-ready ‘trade assistants’. While this is currently non-accredited, Roger thinks these workers will eventually transition into the apprenticeship program.

(Extract from Composites Australia publication, June 2021)

Riviera 78 Motor Yacht
World-class luxury motor yacht Riviera 78 Motor Yacht.  Photo provided courtesy of Riviera Australia Pty Ltd

2020 Chronology of Plastics Industry Training and the QPITC

The following sections have been added to the Brief Chronology of Plastics Industry Training and the QPITC:

(83) For 2020 the COVID-19 cash-feed from the ATO was a brilliant strategy which enabled us to work through the crisis. Many plastic moulders are now very busy, having picked up good business from May 2020, after the initial slump. And they are putting on new apprentices to keep pace with demand.

(84) The review of the PMB plastic processing training package took almost 3 years, and it is awaiting finalisation of the operational aspects with State and Federal Govts. The review did not generate any formal “Skillsets”, which are short courses from the trade technologies. We have applied to write up drafts and get a trial of a few short-course skillsets in Queensland to be delivered by Partec Institute.

 

Polymer Materials Resources for Sale

Units 1 to 18 of Polymer Materials are now available online for the low price of $2.70 each.Polymer Materials Resources for Sale

  • Unit 1 – The Nature of Stuff  FREE with any other purchase
  • Unit 2 – Polymerisation – The Making of Plastic
  • Unit 3 – Predicting Polymer Properties from Structure
    Unit 4 – Thermoset vs Thermoplastic Plastics
  • Unit 5 – Compounding for Properties
  • Unit 6 – Plastics Processing Machines Techniques
  • Unit 7 – The Rheology of Plastics
  • Unit 8 – The Properties of Plastics
  • Unit 9 – Engineering Plastics
  • Unit 10 – Reaction Injection Moulding
  • Unit 11 – Rubber
  • Unit 12 – Plastics Used in Packaging
  • Unit 13 – PET
  • Unit 14 – Fluoro
  • Unit 15 – Plastics in Textiles
  • Unit 16 – Fibre Reinforced Plastic
  • Unit 17 – Building with Plastic
  • Unit 18 – Recycling Plastic

Learn more or purchase the resources here

 

  • These resources will be emailed to the purchaser in PDF format.
  • These resources were designed to be a resource for Diploma of Engineering students.
  • We recognise that certain purchasers may need multiple copies. The $2.70 price has been set very low to encourage purchase of originals and to discourage excessive reproduction.

QPITC 35th Annual General Meeting Summary of Chairman’s Address

Queensland Plastics Industry Training Committee (Inc. 0399)
SUMMARY OF CHAIRMAN’S ADDRESS
35th AGM of QPITC, 11 December, 2019.

This Association was incorporated in Queensland on 5th July 1984 under the Associations Incorporation Act 1981.

The advancement of the industry’s polymer technology training is the primary function of this Association.

Vocational education & training for polymer processing must focus on commercial & practical application of the science of the materials and the science of the manufacturing processes.

In this industry, an apprenticeship is an educational program aiming to improve the enterprise capability and to help the business grow and prosper.

Our industry enterprises give 65% of apprenticeships to existing workers who have proved their worth in the workplace over time periods from two to ten years of employment.

The 20-30 years’ age group of apprentices makes up 50% of the apprentice numbers, with the next 25% being under 20 years of age, and “mature-age” apprentices ranging between 30-45 years of age, being the final 25% of the total of over 120 in continuous enrollment across the specialized polymer processing sectors.

The Queensland government stands out from the other States, with its recognition of these Trade Apprenticeships, and an intelligent funding system for the governance of the training delivery.

This is my opportunity to thank both the Queensland State Government and all the industry sectoral committee members, on behalf of the Queensland Plastics Industry as represented by our Association Members and our allied industry friends.

James Hunter
Chairman of QPITC,
December 2019.