Not just anyone can work in energy generation, transmission and distribution. These industries call for skilled and capable people that have the requisite training, knowledge and awareness to ensure a safe and productive environment.
The types of tradespeople and technicians (see Trades or Technicians Careers) that support the clean energy sector come from electrical, mechanical or civil backgrounds. Pre-apprenticeships, apprenticeships and post-trade qualifications are all valued in the sector. These are usually supplemented by safety or competency training specific to the technology, site or industry.
The following table below shows the types of pathways that could be followed for some key roles in wind, solar and hydro.
|Example role||Relevant qualifications||Additional skills or licenses that could be required|
|Wind farm technician - electrical|
Certificate III in Electrotechnology Electrician (UEE30820)
The pathway to this could include a Certificate II in Electrotechnology (UEE22020) but could also be direct entry into the Certificate III
|Solar farm technician - electrical||Certificate III in Electrotechnology Electrician (UEE30820)|
|Small-scale solar and battery installer||Certificate III in Electrotechnology Electrician (UEE30820)|
|Wind farm technician – mechanical||Many of streams within the following qualifications could provide a solid foundation:|
Certificate III in Engineering - Composites Trade (MEM31119)
From late 2022, Federation University will be offering this qualification specifically tailored to the wind sector
|Hydro technician - mechanical||Certificate III in Engineering – Mechanical Trade (MEM30219)|
An electrical license is a highly versatile qualification that would allow mobility between different types of clean energy technologies and employers. A talented electrician might consider career pathways that include experience in high-voltage operation, electrical site supervision, management or as an area superintendent.
A mechanical trade, although not legally required, is a way to demonstrate engineering knowledge and technical aptitude to prospective employers in the clean energy sector. All employers will require upskilling specific to the industry and technology, but these will only supplement an existing trade.
A nationally accredited VET system ensures that wherever a student chooses to study for a vocation they will experience the same curriculum. For an apprenticeship, it is best to engage with employers or a Group Training Organisation close to home.
When looking at potential TAFEs and independent training organisations, it is important to check whether they have the desired qualification on scope and whether they are offering the electives that the student is interested in. Just because the units are on scope, does not mean that they are being offered – always check.
For a list of training centres offering units of competencies relevant to the design and installation of small-scale renewable energy systems (grid-connected and off-grid), visit the Clean Energy Council's website. The Clean Energy Council also provides training to help meet ongoing Continuous Professional Development requirements.
For post-trade training relevant to large-scale renewable energy, the employer will generally manage this through induction or upskilling as they require a certain standard.
For example, the Global Wind Organisation (GWO) has set a benchmark for the industry-acceptable safety standard for the wind sector. The standard outlines the requirements of certain training courses that are delivered by certified training providers. Upon completion of a GWO course, individuals receive a certificate that is accepted by all GWO member organisations as evidence of competence and knowledge of the safety standard.
Most of Australia’s wind power developers and operators are GWO members. Visit GWO's website for a list of GWO training providers.
Similarly, the Industrial Rope Access Trade Association (IRATA), instigated by the offshore oil and gas sector, is an internationally accepted qualification for rope access technicians.
It describes a safe method of work and provides ongoing professional support to technicians. It is used across many industries, including the wind sector.
IRATA qualification has three levels, with a certain number of on-rope working hours needed to demonstrate proficiency at each level. There are around 20 IRATA Approved Training centres in Australia. Visit IRATA’s website for more information.