Water Workforce Toolbox

Empowering Our People

Non-Accredited Training

Introduction Courses developed by the industry, for the industry.

The qldwater training platform at www.watertraining.com.au is home to the Aqua Card, Brown Card and Green Card training courses, with plenty more in the pipeline.

A series of introductory courses, kindly supplied by TRILITY, is currently under development. First cab off the rank is the Introduction to Chemistry, delivered by Charles Dyer.

Trility Courses

Induction Courses

  • The Introduction to the Water Industry provides a good overview of the water industry across Australia and a great free resource for new staff or elected representatives.
  • Aqua Card provides a simple overview of what contaminants are, the risks they pose, how they enter a drinking water system and the responsibilities of those working on drinking water infrastructure to reduce that risk. It includes practical guidance on how to operate within work sites including good housekeeping and disinfection practices.
  • Brown Card provides an overview of the importance of, and requirements for, maintaining public health, minimising environmental harm and general workplace health and safety when working in, on or near sewerage and recycled water assets. It includes topics like regulations and standards, risks and safety, managing health risks and specific types of work tasks.
  • Green Card ensures all workers are familiar with their environmental protection obligations and associated community safety. The course includes recent changes in safety legislation, new safety technologies, and best practices in the industry.


qldwater can arrange bulk uploads of staff to the Aqua and Brown Card training courses to make their (and your) lives easier. Just populate the Excel template and email it to skills@qldwater.com.au. The template be found here.


In 2023 qldwater received funding from the Department of Employment, Small Business and Training (DESBT) to design, develop and deliver a series of non-accredited Micro-Credential courses aligned to specific industry skill gaps. The skill outcomes targeted for the program will not be nationally recognised (i.e. vocational education and training (VET), as these outcomes can be supported under existing VET investment programs. Topics include:

  • Fluoridation of Public Water Supplies for Operators
  • Fluoridation of Public Water Supplies for Non-Operators
  • An Introduction to SCADA
  • Making Use of Water Quality Data
  • Practical Implications for Drinking Water Quality Management Plans

Registrations for the Micro-Credentials will be managed by the Coordinator, Water Industry Worker Program with registrations opening soon!

Vocational Education

Education that prepares people to a skilled trade as a tradesperson or work as a technician.

The National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) is the national professional body responsible for collecting, managing, analysing and communicating research and statistics on the Australian vocational education and training (VET) sector. In April 2023 they released a report on VET delivery in regional, rural and remote Australia: barriers and facilitators. This research set out to investigate how the training system could better meet the needs of regional, rural and remote Australia, with the project focusing on:

  • understanding how various stakeholders in the VET system perceive local skills needs in regional, rural and remote locations
  • understanding the current barriers to delivering VET in regional, rural and remote locations, and if/how these are overcome.

These issues were examined through interviews with 58 stakeholders in eight case study locations across the country. Interviewees represented registered training organisations (RTOs), industry peak bodies, state training authorities (STAs), regional development bodies and employment service providers.

Read and download a copy of the report here.

qldwater made a submission to the Education, Employment and Training Committee’s (EETC) Inquiry into the delivery of Vocational Education and Training (VET) in regional, rural and remote (RRR) Queensland (the Inquiry) which you can read here.

Registered Training Organisations

All Government funding requires Registered Training Organisations to be a SAS (Skill Assure Suppliers).

Queensland has four RTOs approved as Skills Assure Suppliers (SAS) to deliver the National Water Training Package.

Simmonds & Bristow recently launched a 3-month intensive Bootcamp to fast-track the delivery of the Cert III in Water Industry Operations.

Compliance Training

Some legislation requires specific training to be completed before work can be done, for example

  • Confined Space
  • Asbestos Removal
  • Work Safety at Heights
  • Hazardous Chemicals

We have gathered some information on this page but please note that we provide this research as a service to the urban water industry. If any errors or omissions are noted, please contact skills@qldwater.com.au so that we can keep the information as up to date as possible.

Specialist Short Courses

  • CCTV Inspections
  • Leak Detection
  • Sewer Relining
  • Cable Locating

As noted above, we have collected information of Specialist Short Courses over the years. This type of information is difficult to maintain, so please email skills@qldwater.com.au if any of these details are out of date or if you'd like your organisation to be added.


Engineering and Environmental Sciences for the water sector

There are a number of University qualifications that can be undertaken to assist you to build the knowledge and skills relevant and required for the water industry.

Most universities offer qualifications in Engineering and Environmental Science, which can both be applied to positions within the industry.

Examples of qualifications that can be undertaken include:

Bachelor of Engineering

Bachelor of Environmental Science

Certificate/Diploma/Masters Infrastructure Management

Master of Integrated Water Management


There are a number of scholarships that are available to assist water professionals to gain a tertiary qualification to increase their skills and knowledge of topics impacting the industry. These include the International Centre for Excellence in Water Resource Management (ICEWarm) and International Water Centre (IWC). Click on the links for more information.

Funding and Support

Raising the profile of water with key decision makers.

Making sense of funding and support opportunities across different levels of government is a challenge.

Here's the nuts and bolts of it.

Local Government Level

Do you need help convincing your elected representatives to prioritise funding in essential services? Thanks to Shaun Johnston for sharing this powerpoint presentation which you are welcome to modify for your purposes.

Making water and wastewater services your business – North Burnett Regional Council sample document

The NSW Government developed this training package for elected representatives which provides a good starting point to start your own:

Making water your business – NSW Councillor induction – local water utility template

Where do I find the data to back up my pitch for funding?

The qldwater Workforce Snapshot Reports are produced every two years with the latest to be released soon. With data going back to 2010, the report follows the trends of the urban water and sewerage workforce across Queensland. The reports can be found here.

Snapshot Report

Regional Level

Can we get access to QWRAP bidpool funding?

The Queensland Water Regional Alliances Program (QWRAP) has a bucket of money available each year, receiving $2 million per annum from the Department of Regional Development, Manufacturing and Water (RDMW) for the nine Queensland alliances to pilot innovative programs.

In 2022, the Water Industry Worker program secured funding for a coordinator to manage the program across QWRAP regions. Managed by Lee-Anne Willis, based at Mackay Regional Council, the program has delivered regional training hubs in various locations.

Some examples of Water Industry Worker training hubs supported through QWRAP include:

  • an BNR course in Townsville delivered by Griffith University as a pilot training hub opportunity,
  • funding support to establish relationships with universities and the development of an ongoing program to engage students in the WBBUWA region,
  • during the 2021-22 financial year, 51 staff completed certificates across regional Queensland,
  • some regions also received QWRAP funding for collaborative research projects.

QWRAP regions can also apply for funding to support workforce planning and resource sharing arrangements.

Check this interactive map to see if your Council is part of a regional alliance and reach out to Lee-Anne to find out if there are any training opportunities in your region – or let her know what training it is you need. 

State Government Funding and Support

This one is tricky so let's drill deeper!

The primary funding available to water service providers are as follows (please note that all funding mentioned below requires the SRTO (Supervised Registered Training Organisation) to be a SAS (Skill Assure Suppliers).

It may be worthwhile to note whilst the daily terminology used for referring to all training providers is “RTO”, there is a difference between an RTO and an SRTO (see RTO and SRTO section above under Registered Training Orgs).

A registered training organisation (RTO) is a training provider registered to deliver vocational education and training (VET) and assessment services.

A supervising registered training organisation (SRTO) is an RTO that accepts the role to deliver specified services in regards to a traineeship or an apprenticeship and to monitor delivery of training and assessment services required under a training plan.

The Certificate III in Water Industry Operations (WIO) training package (link) rules state that 11 units are required for competency, 2 core units and 9 electives. Of the 9 electives the below rules apply to align to a specialisation:

  • 5 units from one of the Groups: A, B, C, D, or F, or
  • 7 units from Group E: (select 6 units from specialist elective Groups: F and G, with a minimum of 2 units from each Group), the selection must include NWPGEN017, or
  • ll remaining elective units can be selected from anywhere within this qualification, a maximum of 2 units can be selected from separate qualification that contributes to the vocational learning outcomes (if you wish to bring 2 from the Cert II or Cert IV WIO or similar qualification).

The current NWP30222 Cert III in WIO is now three qualifications in one. NWP30215, NWP30315, NWP30415 all are superseded to the package NWP30222.

Councils have access to some funding streams via Department of Employment, Small Business and Training (DESBT):

User Choice - Apprentices and Trainees Funding

Probably the most used of all Queensland Government funding options, the User Choice program provides a public funding contribution towards the cost of training and assessment for eligible Queensland apprentices and trainees. These funds are paid directly to the approved SAS SRTO training provider.

Priority One (100 per cent subsidised) qualifications are those which lead to occupations deemed to be critical priorities in QLD. Water Industry Operations (WIO) qualification is deemed a Priority One. As at June 2023, government contributions for the Cert II is $3,980 and $7,200 for Cert III. The majority of Councils currently opt to put trainees through Cert III in WIO.

A maximum of two government contributions will be funded per participant under the User Choice 2021-23 program. Different qualifications and learning outcomes are required to access secondary funding. Councils are able to obtain funding once (1) for Cert III in WIO. The current NWP30222 has three qualifications in one. The training package nominates 6 different specialisations (effectively).

  • Group D Network has 27 UoCs – 5 are required to be specialised,
  • Group F Wastewater Treatment has 17 UoCs – 5 are required to be specialised,
  • Group G Water Treatment has 15 UoCs - 1 prerequisite unit and 5 UoCs are required to be specialised.

Training delivered in country (15%), remote (75%), Cape York and Torres Strait (150%) regions of the state will attract a location loading in addition to the government contribution, this is also paid directly to the SAS SRTO training provider. The SRTO can claim additional government contribution for delivering face-to-face training in different regions. The country region attracts an extra $1080.00 based on 15% (country) training of current user choice fee for Cert III - $7,200.00. Therefore, the SRTO receives government funding of $8,280.00 – per participant to deliver face-to-face training. Council contribute the difference between this amount and the amount the SRTO charges councils to deliver the training. A minimum would be where student eligibility is applied; currently at $1.60 per nominal hour of the Unit of Competency (UoC).

The participant must be signed into a Training Contract for the qualification being undertaken. The council is required to engage their Australian Apprentice Support Network (AASN) provider to sign up the trainee to a formal traineeship to access the User Choice funding. A trainee under a training contract maybe eligible to travel and accommodation subsidy. This is now required for the trainee to apply directly for the subsidy and each council would have a different policy on how this is managed. Flights are booked by DESBT when training is further than 1,100km or more (return).

Student contribution fees are the non-government financial contribution. Under the User Choice program, fees are set at $1.60 per nominal hour for each Unit of Competency (UoC) to the cost of the training and assessment services provided by the SRTO (the fee is paid to the SRTO). Councils are required to select the UoC before the SRTO can formalise the student contribution amount.


Councils should be aware that when they send staff to a different location for training other than their own (for hub based training for example), that the location loading where the training is DELIVERED will apply to the RTO. E.g. Torres Strait staff travelling to Cairns for training would receive 15% location loading not 150%.

Certificate 3 Guarantee

The Certificate 3 Guarantee provides eligible individuals with access to subsidised training to obtain a Certificate III level qualification from an SAS RTO training provider.


Not available to trade qualified team members or any Cert III qualification received by construction and field teams, such as a Cert III in Civil Operations.

To be eligible the participant must not hold a Certificate III or higher qualification, excluding qualifications acquired whilst at school.

Certificate 3 Guarantee, units of competency, or courses can only be drawn from the approved foundation skills courses on the Priority Skills List. Cert III in Water Industry Operations qualification is deemed a Priority One and obtains eligibility to C3G. Currently government subsidy for the RTO is $3,320. Council pays the difference between the forementioned amount and the quoted amount from the RTO.

C3G does not require an AASN, or a training contract. As no training contract is required or the requirement of an AASN, funding to travel and accommodation costs are not available.

An advantage for council to use C3G is if they wish to further train the employee into a trade: for example – plumbers trade, they can access the Cert III in WIO and then user choice funding for the Cert III in Plumbing. If they access Cert III in WIO under user choice, they risk not being able to use User Choice funding for a Cert III in Plumbing either with a council or a private employer, which under User Choice is currently funded at $15,680. Alternatively, they may use C3G for a Cert III in WIO, then undertake User Choice funding for the Cert III in WIO selecting different UoC – however they will require to show different learning outcomes and job functions.

Download the Cert III Guarantee Policy here.

Higher Level Skills

The Higher Level Skills (HLS) funding provides eligible individuals with access to subsidised training to obtain a Certificate IV level or higher qualification from an SAS RTO training provider.

To be eligible the participant must not hold a Certificate IV or higher qualification, excluding qualifications acquired whilst at school.

HLS does not require an AASN, or a training contract.

A trade qualified person holding nothing higher than a Cert III may be eligible for HLS funding. Cert IV and Diploma in WIO qualification is deemed a Priority One and obtains eligibility to HLS. Access to HLS is through the priority one. However, the Certificate IV is available as a traineeship, but not to User Choice funding. Therefore, you can sign the participant up through an AASN and access travel and accommodation funding, but the SRTO is a fee for service provider.

First Start Funding

The First Start Funding (FSF) program is aimed at job seekers, providing opportunities to gain a nationally recognised qualification and 12-24 months of paid employment by undertaking a subsidised traineeship or apprenticeship with an eligible local council or community-based organisation.

The FSF provides a set figure of $15,000 towards wages of a new employee for eligible applications. Trainees receive a fixed term of 12 months, despite longer nominal trainee term of contract, $30,000 for apprentices for fixed term of 24 months, despite longer nominal apprentice term of contract.

Organisations may be eligible to apply for other incentives offered by the QLD or Australian Government.

Funded organisations will be required to identify what employment, further education and/or training targets will be achieved throughout the First Start program.

The trainee must enter into a training contract for the qualification, and should be a subsidised qualification under the user choice program.

FSF is in addition to user choice funding. FSF is related to wages, user choice is related to training costs. First start is provided once for each individual undertaking the FSF trainee or apprenticeship.

Funding under First Start is via a bidding process conducted by LGAQ. Local councils submit an annual bid for traineeship and apprenticeship positions. The process involves councils requesting the number of positions required for the upcoming financial year in advance. DESBT assess the bids. If positions are awarded and not filled, then funding is required to be returned. Councils are required to produce monthly reporting on the life of the Service Agreement. All Services Agreement funding must be fully acquitted by the funded organisation after completion and any unexpended or surplus funds returned to DESBT for any trainees or apprentices who terminate their employment prior to completion of the training contract and 12 months of employment. On a case-by-case basis the funding may be redirected to another existing worker undertaking a training contract.

The council is required to engage their Australian Apprentice Support Network (AASN) provider to sign up the trainee to a formal traineeship to access FSF. Only subsidised qualifications under the user choice program will attract funding. Cert II and Cert III in WIO meet this requirement.

Download the First Start Funding Guidelines here.

Workforce Connect

The Workforce Connect Fund is an initiative designed to increase investment in industry and community-led projects that address attraction, retention and participation issues within the workforce.

It aims to drive systemic, industry-wide change in relation to these issues to enhance workforce outcomes for employers, employees and jobseekers.

The Fund is a key action of the Good people. Good jobs: Queensland Workforce Strategy 2022–32, developed to drive Queensland towards a strong and diverse workforce ready to seize today's jobs and adapt to future opportunities.

The Workforce Connect Fund provides grants for large, scalable projects delivered by industry peak bodies and community peak organisations to connect, develop and implement new and innovative strategies, services and/or mechanisms that support the attraction and retention of employees now and into the future.

Organisations proposing large-scale projects can apply for funding of up to $1 million each, with each project to be delivered over a maximum 12-month term.

The 2023–24 Workforce Connect Fund funding round closed on 26 March 2024. qldwater members will be notified via Skills e-Flashes when the next round opens.

qldwater will monitor the process and liaise with DESBT and members to understand what opportunities may exist in the program.

Federal Government Funding and Support

Skills for Education and Employment (SEE)

The Skills for Education and Employment (SEE) Program provides training to help participants build their reading, writing, maths and basic computer skills. The training is delivered across Australia, from metropolitan and regional areas, right through to remote communities.

SEE caters to various groups including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, youth, people with disabilities, mature aged people, and job seekers from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

A referral is required for the SEE program. This can be obtained through jobactive, Disability Employment Services, Transition to Work, ParentsNext, Community Development Program or Service Australia.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Aged between 15 years and the Age Pension age
  • Registered as a job seeker or volunteer job seeker
  • Deemed suitable for training without any barriers that would prevent successful participation (unknown what the barriers are)
  • Australian citizen or permanent resident or have working rights in Australia


  • A full-time student at the time of referral
  • Participating in the New Enterprise Incentive Scheme (NEIS); the Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) or any other program advised from time to time
  • Have exited the program and are seeking a referral within three months of their last exit/program completion date, except where a client is transferring to a new provider
  • A current holder of a Skilled Migrant Visa
  • Currently a secondary visa holder of a person who holds a Skilled Migrant Visa (dependent).

Transition to Work

A Workforce Australia Program, Transition to Work helps young people aged 15 – 24 years develop the skills, behaviours and attitudes employers are looking for.

To participate in Transition to Work you must be between 15 to 24 years old and either and Australian Citizen or an appropriate Visa holder. It will also depend on your individual circumstances, including whether you:

  • Have a Year 12 certificate or equivalent, such as a Certificate III
  • Have been employed within the last six months
  • Are receiving an income support payment such as Youth Allowance
  • Are participating in another employment service including Workforce Australia

Transition to Work providers can help build the skills and confidence to assist those wanting to continue their education or get ready to start a new job.

Possible wage subsidy of up to $10,000 if you offer ongoing employment to Transition to Work job seekers.

Apprentices and Trainees

Australian Apprenticeships is a free service to assist employers to attract and recruit apprentices and trainees. It also aids those wanting to become an apprentice.

Information for employers also includes eligibility for incentives for hiring an apprentice.

There is a list of 77 Australian Apprenticeship Priorities which has trades eligible for funding of up to $5000 for two years of their apprenticeship. Employers may be eligible for Priority Wage Subsidy, set at 10 per cent of the apprentice’s wages for the first and second year, of up to a maximum of $1,500 per quarter and 5 per cent of the apprentice’s wages in the third year, up to a maximum of $750 per quarter.

For employers hiring apprentices undertaking Cert II or higher, not on the priority list, employers are paid $3,500 paid in two equal six-monthly instalments ($1,750 each) after commencement.

Jobs and Skills Australia

Jobs and Skills Australia provide advice on Australia’s labour market, including advice on workforce needs and priorities and current, emerging and future skills and training needs and priorities (including in relation to apprenticeships). This will include assessing issues relating to skills and training, and workforce needs in regional, rural and remote Australia.

In April 2023 they released the Australian Labour Market for Migrants report that provides high-level data and analysis on the Australian labour market that is intended to inform recent migrants to Australia, people interested in working in Australia on a temporary or permanent basis, and organisations providing services to migrants and potential visa applicants.

You can read the findings here


If you find these funding programs to be confusing, you’re not alone! Our members have highlighted some trip hazards to avoid the pitfalls.

Location Loading

A word of warning to members using User Choice funding when delivering training. This will mainly affect FNQ – NQ regions when they travel to areas that are classified as country (115%) area.

Council staff travelling from "Cape York/Torres Strait/Remote Special Areas" (250% loading), would only receive 115% loading if training was delivered in a "Country" location. In a recent example a "Cape York/Torres Strait/Remote Special Area" Council had accepted and paid for training at $18,000 per learner, but only received $8,280 back per learner in subsidy payments, as training was delivered in Cairns.

The location loading spreadsheet from the Department can be accessed here