Skills eFlash #99

Skills eFlash #99

Skills eFlash #99
Date: 21-Jul-2021

In this edition: Operator Certification Update | Reflections of a Scholarship Recipient | Council’s Precious Water Campaign | Digital Transformation Skills Strategy Webinar | Foundation Skills Micro-Credentials Extended | Register Now for July and August Fundamentals Webinars! | Training Package Cases for Change | Skills Advocacy | Upcoming Events

Operator Certification Update

The national Drinking Water Operator Certification Framework was originally developed in 2012, and Certification was the adopted name as it most accurately reflected the agreed need of the water industry at the time.

Over time, there has been growing confusion over the term as it relates to national Vocational Education and Training terminology where many individuals hold a Certificate II or III, but that doesn’t mean they are “Certified” under the Framework which is the process which ensures that Operators have the units of competency relevant to the specific treatment processes they operate, commit to ongoing skills development and so on.

Following a Taskforce meeting earlier this month, draft amendments have been made to the Framework to reflect name changes:

  • Water Industry Operator Registration Framework 2021;
  • Water Industry Operator Registration Taskforce (WIORT);
  • Registering Body in lieu of Certifying Body; and 
  • Registered Professional Operator to replace Certified Operator.

Operators “Certified” under former Frameworks will be automatically recognised as “Registered Professional Operators” under the conditions of this Framework provided the conditions of previous Framework versions, including timeframes, remain met.

The only other amendments include revised listings of units of competency to reflect updates to the National Water Training Package (NWP).

If you have any feedback you’d like to provide on the amendments, please submit to by 5pm, Friday 20 August.  It is our aim to publish a final version shortly after that, once approved by the WIORT.

Reflections of a Scholarship Recipient

Elizabeth (Liz) O’Çhin from Cherbourg Aboriginal Shire Council was recently awarded a qldwater Scholarship, through the Queensland Water Regional Communities Innovations Program (QWRCIP), to cover her costs of attending the 45th WIOA Queensland Water Industry Operations Conference & Exhibition in Toowoomba. As part of her visit, qldwater arranged for her to spend the day with operators from Toowoomba Regional Council who showed her the workings of the Pechey Water Treatment Plant. Thank you very much to Jared Schefe and the team at Toowoomba Regional Council for kindly showing Liz around. 

Liz started her career with Cherbourg Aboriginal Shire Council as a Trainee Receptionist and then became the Assistant to the Operations Manager. As part of her role, she has been supporting operators with administration tasks and data entry and started getting out on site to assist with testing and has quickly developed an interest in water operations. She is commencing her Certificate III in Water Industry Operations in August and says attending the WIOA conference and visiting the Pechey Water Treatment Plant has made her more excited to start her training and progress her career in the water industry. 

Read more about Liz’s story and her scholarship visit.

Council’s Precious Water Campaign      

Congratulations to Douglas Shire Council on the launch of their recent water education campaign called ‘Our Precious Water’.

Launched ahead of the 2021 dry season, the campaign aims to help increase public understanding of the delicate water situation in Douglas Shire. It features a series of videos and images, including a 7-minute documentary-style video to inform, educate and connect customers to their Water and Wastewater team.

The campaign, starring a variety of Council staff, features several educational videos and immersive videos that explore the journey of water from the rainforest water intakes to customer homes.

Find out more about this great initiative and watch the videos here

Digital Transformation Skills Strategy Webinar      

The Digital Transformation Expert Panel has now released ‘The Learning Country’ – its strategy for what Australia’s Vocational Education and Training (VET) system must do to support our nation’s workforce through the impact of digital transformation. It emphasises that our training system needs to move quickly given predictions* that by 2034:

  • Automation will displace 2.7m Australian workers
  • Technology will supplement 4.5m Australian workers, leading to a 15% capacity uplift to Australian businesses
  • With the guiding principle of ‘leave no worker behind’, the Strategy emphasises that while digital transformation is synonymous with technology, it is those inherent human skills which cannot be replicated by an algorithm that will help future-proof the workforce

Australian Industry Standards is hosting a webinar on Wednesday, 21 July from 11:00am–12:00pm to discuss the key issues for Australia’s training system, digital transformation and how it will augment and affect the future of work. The webinar will feature Professor Aleksandar Subic, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Science, Engineering, Health and Vice President Digital Innovation at RMIT University, Dr Claire Mason, Principal Research Scientist at CSIRO’s Data61, Mark McKenzie, Immediate Past Chair and Director of the Council of Small Business Organisations Australia (COSBOA) and Paul Walsh, CEO of AIS, who will also be facilitating this webinar.

Please click here to register for the webinar.

Foundation Skills Micro-Credentials Extended

The Water Industry Foundation Skills Micro-Credentials have been developed by qldwater in conjunction with the Water Skills Partnership to provide entry-level courses in water treatment, wastewater treatment and network operations. The courses are supported by funding from the Department of Employment, Small Business and Training and delivered by Registered Training Organisations on behalf of qldwater. The Department has approved an extension to qldwater’s program to allow more time for water service providers to enrol their staff and for development of a SCADA/Remote Monitoring course. 

The courses can be completed via a virtual workshop, in-house workshops (minimum numbers apply) or by remote/self-paced learning. More information is available on qldwater’s micro-credentials site and you can choose to register directly via that site, or contact Carlie Sargent on 07 3632 6853 to discuss your options. 

Register Now for July and August Fundamentals Webinars! 

Registrations are open for our July and August Fundamentals Webinars for Operators and Water Industry Workers. Register now for either or both of the following sessions:

‘RF Exposure & Safety Working on Reservoirs’ presented by Murray Thompson, 10am-11am, Tuesday 27 July 

‘Offline and Online Remote Assistance Technologies for Regional and Remote Water Service Providers’ presented by David Francis, CEO, Virtual Method, 10am-11am, Tuesday 17 August. This session was specifically requested by Water Skills Partners to consider the various remote assistance technologies available to support their workforce. Don’t miss it!

Recordings of all previous webinars are available to download on the qldwater website. Please contact with any queries about previous or future webinars or to discuss sponsorship opportunities. 

Training Package Cases for Change      

Following public consultation last month, the Water Industry Reference Committee has proposed development of four new units of competency and one skill set to be added to the National Water Training Package. These have now been submitted to the Australian Industry and Skills Committee (AISC) for consideration at its meetings on 21 July or 19 August. The units/skill sets proposed for development include:  

  • Use optical vision technology in the field
  • Maintain network assets using high pressure water systems
  • Clean water mains using air scouring or swabbing techniques
  • Flush water distribution systems
  • Flood Site Operations Skill Set

Skills Advocacy      

qldwater through the Water Skills Partnership and in our role as an Industry Skills Advisor to the Department of Employment, Small Business and Training (DESBT) and as a member of the Water Industry Reference Committee, is regularly asked to provide input to policy and investment decisions to support the skilling and training needs of the Queensland water industry workforce. The following is an overview of recent and other related activities:

DESBT Updated Priority Skills List

As reported in Skills e-Flash #97, qldwater provided input to the Queensland Government’s Review of Vocational Education and Training Investment for prioritising skilling and training expenditure, based on feedback from Water Skills Partners. The updated subsidy lists have now been updated for 2021/22:

  • User Choice Price List
  • Priority Skills List

The following subsidies have been approved for the National Water Training Package:

  • 100% (Priority 1) funding for the Certificate II in Water Industry Operations and Certificate III in Water Industry Operations will continue
  • There has been no increase to the subsidy for the Certificate IV in Water Industry Operations or the Diploma of Water Industry Operations and we are following this up with DESBT
  • There has been no decision made at this stage in relation to subsidising Competency Clusters as a mechanism to upskill existing qualified Operators and Water Industry Workers

qldwater will continue discussions with DESBT in relation to funding of qualifications to best support industry’s skilling and training needs. 

Skills Reform

As reported in previous Skills e-Flashes, qldwater has provided a number of submissions and participated in consultation on key reforms to improve the VET system. The AISC has announced some changes to industry engagement arrangements, with Skills Ministers committing to the creation of new industry clusters with a broad range of responsibilities (not limited to training package review and development). 

In time, the new clusters will replace Industry Reference Committees (IRCs) and the Skills Service Organisations (SSOs) and are expected to be progressively stood up and fully operational by December 2022. 

Skills Ministers have also supported training package approval being undertaken by an independent approval body. The details and timeframes for the new training package approval arrangements are still being worked through as part of the next stage of the reform process.  

An implementation and transition plan will be developed by Skills Senior Officials Network over the coming months for consideration by Skills Ministers. This will be informed by ongoing consultation with stakeholders, including a new Transition Advisory Group which includes representatives from government, industry, and unions.

Through our role on the Water Industry Reference Committee, qldwater will continue to provide feedback on proposed changes and will share those at every opportunity. If you have any comments at this stage, please contact Carlie Sargent on 07 3632 6853. 

Upcoming Events 

  • Fundamentals Webinar: ‘RF Exposure & Safety Working on Reservoirs’ presented by Murray Thompson, 10am-11am, Tuesday 27 July – Register Now!
  • Fundamentals Webinar: ‘Offline and Online Remote Assistance Technologies for Regional and Remote Water Service Providers’ presented by David Francis, CEO, Virtual Method, 10am-11am, Tuesday 17 August – Register Now!
  • Foundation Skills Micro-Credentials, self-paced, online workshops and face to face workshops available. Enrol Now!
  • Charters Towers Regional Conference, 21-22 July 2021
  • Annual Forum, 7-9 September 2021 – Register Now!

For more upcoming events, visit:

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