Plastic Blog

Roger Cater, Plastics-ITC

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Roger Cater B.Bus, MRACI

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The old financial incentives system is obsolete and now all financial assistance for employers based on wage subsidies.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

Plastics and the Circular Economy Conference 2023

The race is on to shift Australasia from poor circularity and high emissions to a sustainable, viable future.

Sessions will explore pending and potential laws and regulations, economic incentives, investments and infrastructure and trade trends that impact design, production, sales, recycling, imports and exports.

This conference is a must for anyone interested in forging a circular and low emissions future and more effective management of plastics, or anyone involved in key sectors, including packaging, agriculture, built environment and textiles.

This is a purposeful conference to network, be energised, propose solutions and forge a clear path and stronger future!

Conference Features

  • 2 inspiring full days of leaders and networking for this national and global industry
  • 2 international online days of leaders, facts and inspiration
  • Revealing Keynotes by internationally distinguished speakers
  • Multiple expert sessions with frank discussions into priority issues tackling trends, impacts, preferred options
  • Circular Plastics Expo featuring displays of outstanding product innovations, designs, technology and service providers
  • Best innovations, effective policies, technologies and solutions from Australia and overseas
  • 200+ decision-makers and representatives from Australia and regions
  • 20 Sponsorship opportunities to showcase leadership, innovation, vision and expertise
  • Revealing Update from 2022 PCE Conference Communique.

Register and learn more about the 2023 Plastics and the Circular Economy conference here

Rodger Wolfe Prize

There is now a special bank account with the name “Rodger Wolfe Prize”, (BSB 034-089, Account number 122068 at Westpac Bank Garden City). There is $3000 in the account at present. The aim which I announced at his recent remembrance service is to enable his name to live on in memory of his very caring but firm training of his Composites Technician Apprentices when this apprenticeship was only new. There are many of these apprentices now working as graduated Technician Tradesmen (yes, there are some ladies in this industry group also), and I am certain that they have fond memories of Rodger Wolfe. The “Rodger Wolfe Achievement Award” will be presented at least annually using interest from the capital of $3,000 (or more if any other donors choose to make a deposit into the account).

Composites trainer update

Regarding the PARTEC Institute Composites Technician Trainer to replace Mark Halford going into semi-retirement, we have highly skilled and internationally experienced Diettmar Heydenrych (, and to assist him and replace Dean Margetts, we now have brother of Dean, Graeme Margetts (, also highly qualified and experienced in marine composites repair and boat production.

Composites Training Consultant: expressions of interest

The Composites Training Centre at the Partec Institute has an upcoming need for a new Training Consultant.
Guaranteed confidential “expressions of interest” from the local industry. Roger’s private mobile for voice or text is 0417 002 734.

Roger Cater
Association Secretary
ABN 25 083 482 8919
Queensland Plastics Industry Training Committee Inc.

Vale Rodger Wolfe

Rodger Wolfe was the first Composites Technician trainer at the PARTEC Composites Training Centre in Brisbane. Rodger was instrumental in getting the first trade apprenticeships up and running at the PARTEC Composites Training Centre at Mt Gravatt. Unfortunately brain cancer was diagnosed last Christmas and he passed away this week. There will be many former student apprentices who trained with him. A celebration of his contribution to the composites technician trade will be held at the Mt Gravatt Crematorium off Mains Road on Tuesday 14th of February 2023, at 2pm.

Australian Apprenticeships Priority List – July 2022

  • Aged or Disabled Carer
  • Agricultural Technician
  • Airconditioning and Mechanical Services Plumber
  • Airconditioning and Refrigeration Mechanic
  • Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (Avionics)
  • Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (Mechanical)
  • Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (Structures)
  • Arborist
  • Automotive Electrician
  • Baker
  • Bricklayer
  • Butcher or Smallgoods Maker
  • Cabinetmaker
  • Cabler (Data and Telecommunications)
  • Carpenter
  • Carpenter and Joiner
  • Chef
  • Child Care Worker
  • Civil Engineering Draftsperson
  • Civil Engineering Technician
  • Cook
  • Dental Assistant
  • Diesel Motor Mechanic
  • Diversional Therapist
  • Drainer
  • Electrical Engineering Draftsperson
  • Electrical Engineering Technician
  • Electrical Lines worker
  • Electrician (General)
  • Electrician (Special Class)
  • Enrolled Nurse
  • Farrier
  • Fibrous Plasterer
  • Fitter (General)
  • Fitter and Turner
  • Fitter-Welder
  • Floor Finisher
  • Furniture Finisher
  • Gasfitter
  • Glazier
  • Greenkeeper
  • Hairdresser
  • Joiner
  • Landscape Gardener
  • Locksmith
  • Meat Inspector
  • Metal Casting Trades Worker
  • Metal Fabricator
  • Metal Machinist (First Class)
  • Motor Mechanic (General)
  • Motorcycle Mechanic
  • Nurseryperson
  • Nursing Support Worker
  • Painting Trades Worker
  • Panel beater
  • Pastrycook
  • Personal Care Assistant
  • Plumber (General)
  • Pressure Welder
  • Roof Plumber
  • Roof Tiler
  • Shearer
  • Sheetmetal Trades Worker
  • Shipwright
  • Signwriter
  • Small Engine Mechanic
  • Solid Plasterer
  • Stonemason
  • Technical Cable Jointer
  • Telecommunications Cable Jointer
  • Telecommunications Lines worker
  • Telecommunications Technician
  • Upholsterer
  • Vehicle Painter
  • Wall and Floor Tiler
  • Welder (First Class)
  • Wood Machinist

Financial Incentives for Apprenticeships

(As of December 2022 Blog, this information was sourced from authoritative websites which were Updated: 23 August 2022.)

In the case of Plastics Apprentices, there are incentives for new employee-apprentices but not for existing employees who become an apprentice, and this covers all the Plastic/Polymer processing apprenticeships. This is now called the “Hiring Incentive” and can be up to $3,500. This applies as well to Toolmaking Trade Apprentices.

In the case of Maintenance fitter apprentices, an Australian Apprentice undertaking this occupation, which is on the Priority List, may be eligible for an Apprentice Training Support Payment of up to $5,000 paid in instalments over the first two years of their Australian Apprenticeship.

The Priority List

The above “rules” are mainly influenced by the fact that all the “Plastics” occupations, like Composites Technician Extrusion technician etc, are not listed on the “Priority List”. The Priority List identifies occupations classified by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) as either Technicians and Trades Workers or Community and Personal Service Workers, that were included on the Skills Priority List published by the National Skills Commission on 30 June 2021.

Questions and Answers

How have the occupations on the Priority List been selected?

The occupations on the Priority List meet the following criteria: assessed by the National Skills Commission as being in shortage; and classified by the Australian Bureau of Statistics Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) as either Technicians and Trades Workers (ANZSCO Major Group 3). (and others not relevant to our industries..). These criteria were applied as they identify occupations with a labour market need and those most likely to involve an Australian Apprenticeship entry pathway.
The Priority List will be updated regularly. The National Skills Needs List was last updated in 2011.

Major unanswered questions.

  • Why is Plastics Technician not classified in ANZSCO Major Group 3?
  • Why is Plastics Technician not assessed as being a skills shortage?
  • What needs to be done to remedy this situation?

Plastics and the Circular Economy conference 2022

  • Conference East Melbourne Tue 22 – Wed 23 November 2022
    The SPE Conference is the only event in Australia bringing people together to learn and see into the dynamic future of Australasia’s entire plastics supply chain, trends in design, policy, manufacture, regulations and trade. It is focused around national and global targets, pressures and markets.  Delves into a world of defining opportunities for experts, suppliers and decision makers.

    • An impressive line-up of Australian, New Zealand and European leaders presenting expert views on key areas for transformation of plastics for circularity and low emissions future
    • Stimulating keynotes, panel discussions and audience forums on packaging targets, stewardship, bans, greenwashing, labels and certification, world-leading technology innovations, global marine pledge, plastics recyclability, procurement power and more.
    • Networking sessions including lunches and cocktail reception on Day 1
    • Vital sectors for Australia including packaging, building products, civil, infrastructure and automotive and plus the policies, strategies, investments and programs to transform plastics in all sectors and end recyclable plastics to landfill
    • Keynote presenters include:
      • Innes Willox, CEO, Australian Industry Group on directions for manufacturing
      • Mattia Pellegrini, Head of Unit, Waste to Resources, European Commission on directions in Europe
      • Ton van der Giessen, CEO, Werven Plastics Recycling on success factors for recycled content
    • Plus other outstanding voices on challenges and opportunities.
  • Online European evening on 24 November 2022
    • Measurements – National Test Centre Circular Plastics – Martine Brandsma – The Netherlands
    • Industrial transformation by design – The Coca-Cola Company – Wouter Vermeulen – Belgium
    • Ceflex update – Grahame Houlder – The Netherlands
    • Advanced Recycling – Plastic Energy-Carlos Monreal – Spain
    • Global state of plastics production and pollution – Edie- Matt Mace – UK
    • New materials for a circular economy – Materiom – Liz Corbin – UK

Register and learn more about the 2022 Plastics and the Circular Economy conference here

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.

COVID-19: Cash support for employers of apprentices

Employers of apprentices can apply for an apprentice wage cash subsidy of 50% for the 9 months from the first day of 2020, up to a cap of $21,000 for each apprentice. Applications open in April. See this site for full details:

This is aimed at employers with fewer than 20 employees and will be paid quarterly. Applies to apprentices already employed and in training before start of March 2020.

QPITC 35th Annual General Meeting

QPITC Members and Management Committee: Message from Association Secretary follows:

The AGM for QPITC was held as e-business, opening the meeting after the Audited Accounts were received by the Chairman and Treasurer at end of September, and closing the meeting at the “close of business 11th of December 2019”, and confirming re-election of Chairman and others, and some new appointments. (Refer to the revised “Corporate Directory” on the revised website

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

Queensland Plastics Industry Training Committee (Inc. 0399)
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.