The Regional Water Industry Worker (WIW) pilot program is an example of a highly successful QWRAP project and recently received recognition as a finalist in the 2020 Premier's Industry Collaboration Awards. The project has seen Burdekin, Cairns, Mackay, Townsville and Whitsunday councils collaborate on upskilling operators and based on its success, was expanded this year to councils in the Wide Bay Burnett Regional Organisation of Council’s region.
The WIW program focusses on providing formal recognition of skills for the water network employees within councils – an essential and sometimes under-recognised role. With a strong emphasis on on-the-job learning, the program provides a practical approach to valuing existing skills and acknowledges that experienced WIWs often gained their skills without a structured learning framework or other formal qualification.
The training program focusses on a key industry skills gap and allows for a baseline qualification to be issued to council employees with participants undertaking either a Certificate II or III in Water Industry Operations.
Collaboration among multiple councils has enabled career pathways within and across regions and created opportunities for continued collaboration, resource sharing and development of multi-skilled operators with consistent and trusted training credentials. It has also provided a solution to the difficulty experienced in attracting a skilled workforce to regional Queensland by creating a career path for local people; local jobs for local people.
The current expansion of the pilot program increases opportunities for skills development to six new service providers and a second intake across North Queensland councils. With four regions and a total of 10 councils offering WIW training, the program is on track to establishing secure and viable skills recognition and development for Queensland local government water network staff.