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Qualification for remote Aboriginal communities

The new Certificate III qualification, Remote Community Utilities Worker, has been approved by the Australian Government declared Industry Skills Council for the Australian ElectroComms and Energy Utilities Industries, EE-Oz, and will be piloted by Horizon Power before being available Australia-wide.

EE-Oz has confirmed that the qualification will be endorsed by the National Quality Council in the third quarter of 2011.

The qualification cannot be used by other utilities, other than Horizon Power, until the pilot project is completed.

The pilot project will begin on July 13. Once it is completed, the qualification will again be re-evaluated by EE-Oz and its industry stakeholders, and any of their recommendations implemented, before the qualification is available for use in remote communities across Australia.

Horizon Power's Assets and Works Capability Manager Shane Eeles said the qualification would allow people living in remote communities to be trained to carry out a range of tasks on the overhead and underground electrical distribution networks and generation assets in their own community, improving the safety, reliability and quality of power supplies.

"At the end of their training, they would be acknowledged with a nationally-recognised Certificate III qualification instead of the existing enterprise-based training certificates," he said.

Horizon Power's eight trainee Essential Services Officers (ESOs) based in east and west Kimberley communities will now be known as Remote Community Utilities Workers (RCUW).

They will be recognised for their prior learning under Horizon Power's Aboriginal Communities Training program and will be given recognition of prior learning (RPL) toward the new national qualification as part of the pilot project.

Acting Energy Minister Troy Buswell said upon successful completion of the pilot project, Aboriginal people in remote communities around Australia would have the opportunity to work towards a trade, providing a role model in their communities as well as ensuring quality utility services.

"This is a major and significant step in creating quality full time employment opportunities, which offer a nationally recognised Certificate III qualification and career path in the electrical supply industry for Aboriginal people in the remote communities not just in WA but also nationally," he said.

Horizon Power's Assets and Works Capability Manager Shane Eeles said two years of hard work had gone into ensuring that the ACT program designed by Horizon Power was registered as a nationally-recognised Certificate III qualification.

The journey towards getting this qualification included Mr Eeles and Horizon Power's Indigenous Training and Development Coordinator Michael Case taking EE-Oz Board members Mr John Ingram, Mr Bernard van den Bergen, the EE-Oz CEO Mr Bob Taylor and CEPU WA's Mr Joe Fiala, on a tour of the West Kimberley Dampier Peninsula to show them first hand the work of the trainee ESOs.

Mr Eeles said the tour allowed the Board members to see first hand the importance of providing quality training and employment opportunities in remote communities.

Warmun trainee ESO Kieran Hamaguchi said the national recognition of Horizon Power's training program was a step in the right direction for Indigenous employment opportunities.

The trainee ESO in the remote community of Bidyadanga, Keith Hunter, said "We are doing this qualification to provide us with a better future and at the same time stay in our communities."

"It will help our young people stay in school and have the opportunity to get a really good job like mine," he said.

Contact Reference: Wendy Pryer - Phone: 0409 796 999, 1800 799 745