Water Journal : Water Journal May 2011
conference reviews regular features 60 MAY 2011 water • 15 WICD presenters, six workshop presentations and two WICD keynotes; • The WICD Conference Committee: Nicole Latham, Melbourne Water (Chair), Alison Nolan, South East Water and Darryl Hancock, MidCoast Water. Summary The conference included a range of diverse themes, from Culture Change to Employee Welfare, and attracted interested delegates from across the breadth of organisations in the water skills arena. The opening keynote by Philip Bullock, Chair, Skills Australia, highlighted national workforce trends and the belief that the industry must take responsibility to develop innovative solutions to skills issues. Rohan Anderson, Manager, Industry Engagement, Energy Skills Queensland, provided a contrasting industry perspective about broad skills management in a rapidly evolving sector. Both keynotes highlighted the importance of industry innovation and champions to meet their organisation and sector's skill needs. This challenge was adopted by the WICD stream presenters, who shared their ideas and contributions to their enterprises and regions. In the three workshops on National Strategies, Maximising Technology and Employee Health and Welfare, delegates took advantage of the opportunity to discuss critical concerns. There was consensus on a number of items, with some of the most significant ones including: • The desire for national strategy and collaboration while accounting for different regions' needs; • Better linkages to schools and regulatory bodies; • That work is required to address operator training; • The importance of ongoing and continual improvement of employee welfare policies; • And a shared and combined system to share tools and resources. The feedback and contacts from the conference will be utilised to direct and contribute to WICD and AWA activities. For example, AWA intends to work more closely with schools utilising AWA's recent recruit Fleur Johnson, Project Manager -- School and Community Education, and as part of the H2Oz careers in water campaign; AWA has meanwhile developed and distributed school career posters. In addition, an operator training project scoping document is underway and a WICD sub-committee is proposed to pool resources and focus on emerging technologies. It was promising to see the strong capability and interest from all stakeholders. This provides support for cohesive and national skill activities such as the National Water Skills Business Plan and the WICD network itself. Overall the WICD Conference was a resounding success and we look forward to convening skills stakeholders again for the biennial workshop next year. National Strategies Workshop Tamara Shinners, Government Skills Australia and Fiona Mackenzie from AWA presented updates on current and planned projects. Discussion and feedback ensued. Key discussion points • Diverse issues, but needs national co-ordination; • Must increase the number of RTOs; • Get private sector support; • All organisations need to invest in capacity development -- benchmarking; • Need organisations to have workforce planning; • Get school interest, build traineeship and apprenticeship programs; • Quality of RTOs is questionable, need an industry approval process to be set up; • Strategic co-ordination, not only on training but all HR aspects; • Take into account the regional, small organisation perspective; • Share the good news and ideas; • H2Oz is good for awareness and attraction, school focus; • Engagement with regulatory agencies; • Reduce duplication of projects. The National Water Skills Business Plan is the first to capture, build and share skill project information; • Approach should take into account state and regional versus metropolitan differences; • General interest in national collaboration; • Help kids to get into entry level programs; • Drive the national perspective; • More engagement with regulators. Agreed items • Discussion prioritised operator training issues; • Consideration of regional and state differences and needs; • Better engagement with regulatory agencies; • Promote careers at a school level and offer entry level programs; • National strategy and collaboration is important. Employee Health and Welfare Workshop Jenny Legge from JobFit Systems presented on assessments that comply with the five principles of pre-employment functional assessments: safety, reliability, validity, practicality and utility. Melbourne Water's Martin Bowles presented on data collected and their innovative 'No harm' policy and welfare scheme. WICD Conference: Employee Health and Welfare Workshop.
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