WA engineering course a national first
An engineering course offered by Challenger Institute of Technology in WA has recently achieved full accreditation from the Engineers Australia Accreditation Board as a base qualification for entry to practice in the occupational category of Engineering Associate.
The course has been acclaimed for its innovative approach to para-professional engineering education and its graduates will help counter the national skills shortage.
The course – the Advanced Diploma of Engineering (Mechanical), from the Metals and Engineering Training Package MEM05 – helps students develop the skills and professional attributes demanded by the Stage 1 Competency Standard for Engineering Associates.
“The qualification provides students with practical skills and knowledge to carry out mechanical engineering detailed drafting and design, and oversee the installation and maintenance of machinery,” said Jill Jamieson, Challenger Institute’s General Manager of Training Services.
“Students learn a range of computer drafting skills, as well as developing knowledge of engineering processes and principles.
“They also develop skills in relation to preparing drawings, designing mechanical equipment; operating and maintaining mechanical systems, and project management.”
The course is very much hands on and incorporates pathways to university.
“We worked closely with key employers in the mining and resource sector to ensure that the skills and knowledge gained through completing this qualification meet current engineering practice and workplace skill demand,” Ms Jamieson said.
“As well as that, Challenger has negotiated advanced standing agreements with universities to provide graduates with a degree pathway.”
The course is delivered at the Fremantle campus of Challenger Institute, as well as the Australian Centre for Energy and Process Training (ACEPT) at Henderson which provides training for the oil and gas industry.
About 60 students a year undertake the course, which was introduced several years ago.
Ms Jamieson said that Challenger Institute aspires to be the leading engineering Registered Training Organisation (RTO) in WA, and is introducing another engineering training course – in the field of electro-technology – for the power generation industry.
At recent workshops conducted by the Australian National Engineering Taskforce, a shortage of para-professionals with drafting skills was highlighted as a key engineering bottleneck nationally. Graduates of the Challenger course are expected to be more than competent to help address this need.
Emeritus Professor Alan Bradley, an accreditation consultant with Engineers Australia, said accreditation of the Challenger Institute course was an important landmark.
“This is the first example of a para-professional training program, offered in Australia and implemented in accordance with the requirements of a national training package, which has achieved professional accreditation by Engineers Australia,” he said.
He said this achievement is the first step in a current national initiative by Engineers Australia to work with TAFE institutions, and RTOs in general, to encourage submission of advanced diploma engineering courses for accreditation in the category of Engineering Associate.
At the same time, Engineers Australia is working with a number of national Skills Councils in the ongoing development and improvement of the training packages which underpin competency-based learning and, in particular, set the basis for para-professional engineering education outcomes.
“Para-professionals support the engineering team and play an important role in Australian industry, and industry is keen to recruit these people,” he said.
By Tony Malkovic