Water Journal : Water Journal December 2013
DECEMBER 2013 WATER 43 Feature Article WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED FROM THE VICTORIAN EXPERIENCE? From a team culture perspective, Veolia and Wannon Water have found participation in implementation of the Guidelines and operator certi cation to be a bene cial exercise. Anecdotal evidence has shown that operators appreciate the recognition of their skills and knowledge and have been receptive to the increased focus on their role as custodians of public health (see "Some Perspectives on Operator Certi cation"). They have risen to the challenge of the increased training and upskilling requirements, and are more likely to actively participate in their own training and professional development planning. However, there are constraints and costs that are borne by an organisation when implementing such a scheme. For example: • The rst implementation cycle of the Guidelines in Victoria (2011--2014) resulted in an increased cost and time impost on Veolia's Victorian operations. • The Bendigo operations saw a three-fold increase in the annual training budget in the rst year (2011) and a ve-fold increase in the second year (2012), compared to the 2010 budget. The second impact is the loss of operations staff due to the increased training requirements. The Guidelines in Victoria require new operators to be fully quali ed within 24 months of commencement of employment, with extra units of competency to be completed within 36 months. In the case of Veolia's Victorian plants, this equates to almost 400 hours of water operations training that is required over 36 months. This places major constraints on rosters, staf ng and leave allocation. In response to the increased cost and time commitment for operator training and competency the Veolia team worked hard to improve and innovate on our training management and delivery. This included: • Providing technical staff and senior operational staff professional development opportunities to become in-house quali ed trainers. • More focus on recognition of existing skills and experience within the team and more effective use of RPL assessment. • Development of better working relationships with RTOs in order to customise more exible, time- and cost-effective training arrangements. These activities have resulted in signi cant improvements to our training management and delivery -- so much so that: • In the rst six months of 2013 the expenditure on operator quali cation and competency training had returned to pre- Guideline levels, despite an increase in training delivery. The bene t is that more training funds are available for ongoing professional development. • The Veolia team has made more effective use of alternative training delivery methods (online, distance mode, on-the-job, RPL) and has overall reduced the number of hours operators are away for training. LOOKING TO THE FUTURE: THE NATIONAL OPERATOR CERTIFICATION FRAMEWORK The development and implementation of the Guidelines in Victoria has been an important rst step on the road to the establishment of a future National Operator Certi cation Framework (the National Framework). The National Framework responds to the need to address the inconsistencies in training and competency of drinking water operators across the country, and the resulting variation in standards of practices, which has been highlighted by regulators and industry as a potential public health risk. A National Certi cation Framework to address the issue was considered a high priority in the National Water Skills Strategy (COAG, 2009). The $250,000 project to establish a National Framework proposal was awarded to Government Skills Australia (GSA) in June 2011 from the Raising National Water Standards program run by the National Water Commission (NWC). A National Framework steering committee headed up by GSA, and including representatives from industry, regulators and peak water associations, was tasked with delivery of a proposal for the National Framework to the NWC in March 2012. Both Wannon Water and Veolia had representatives on this steering committee. The general feeling across the water industry is that the National Framework will be an important step towards achieving nationally consistent quality standards for drinking water treatment. The Victorian experience of the implementation of the Guidelines and the WIOA Certi cation Scheme provides valuable insights to the implications of a National Framework for the Australian water industry. WJ REFERENCES DEWHA (2009): Water For The Future, National Water Skills Strategy, 16pp. Government Skills Australia (2012): Proposed National Certi cation Framework 2012, Adelaide, SA, 37pp. Victorian Water Industry Association (2010): Victorian Framework for Water Treatment Operator Competencies -- Best Practice Guidelines, 31pp. Wannon Water (2012) 2011/12 Annual Report, Warrnambool, Vic, 86pp. WOIA (2011): Water Industry Operator Certi cation Scheme, Water Industry Operators Association, Shepparton, Vic, 14pp. THE AUTHORS John Harris (email: firstname.lastname@example.org) is Manager, Treatment Operations, with Wannon Regional Water Corporation. John has 39 years' experience in the water industry and has a strong involvement in training with setting up the rst certi cate in Water and Wastewater in Victoria in 1987. He has since been involved in the development of the national water training package, as chair of the water industry advisory committee. John is also a Director on the Government Skills Australia committee representing water. Kathy Northcott (email: email@example.com) is a Senior Process Engineer with Veolia Water Australia's Victorian operations. Since mid-2011 Kathy has added Regional Training Project Manager to her responsibilities, tasked with implementation of operator competency and certi cation across Veolia's Victorian operations. With a PhD and a degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Melbourne, Kathy has 16 years of industry experience. She has worked in a variety of roles including Cogeneration Power Station Operator in South Australia, Water Treatment Operator in Antarctica, and Engineering Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Japan.
Water Journal November 2013
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