Appointment of Ms Donna Pickford as CEO of ElectroGroup

Appointment of Ms Donna Pickford as CEO of ElectroGroup

 

The Board of ElectroGroup are delighted to announce the permanent appointment of Ms Donna Pickford as the CEO of ElectroGroup.

 

Donna has extensive experience in managing a number of roles in various aspects of the business over the last 7 years. Prior to Acting as the CEO, Donna was in charge of Electro Group Apprentices and built a strong platform for apprentices and host employers within various sectors of the industry. Her outstanding relationship skills has made her an ideal choice to lead the organisation into the next phase of the business. Donna has been given a broad brush to identify the strategic strengths of the organisation and to continue to build the business based on the values of “excellence in training  and strong customer service within a culture of fairness and integrity”.

 

Donna has already provided a role model for all of the staff and apprentices to follow. Her diligence and hard work are beginning to pay off with the development of new post-trade courses as well as developing a strong compliance culture within the RTO. All host employers and industry stakeholders are encouraged to contact Electrogroup with any training initiatives or inquiries they might have.

 

ElectroGroup are committed to finding training solutions that marry the interests of employers with those of their apprentices and staff. Donna is well placed to promote the good work of the entire organisation and we look forward to seeing some of the exciting ventures she is already beginning to explore. Please join with me in congratulating Donna on a wonderful achievement.

Additional Tutoring

Did you know that tutoring is free for Apprentices that need extra help?

If you or if you have noticed your Apprentice is struggling with certain units under your Certificate III in Electrotechnology Electrician, fear not, there is help.

Under the User Choice Pre-qualified Supplier Agreement, all Registered Training Organisations must provide you additional learning support.

This means that if you or Electrogroup see that you are being challenged by certain concepts or topics, Electrogroup will fully support you with additional tutoring to ensure that you are moving forward with no out of pocket expenses.

Make sure you reach out to one of our team at either our Rocklea or Rockhampton Campuses and gain the support you need.

CONSTRUCTION FORECAST | What will the second half of 2016 hold?

CONSTRUCTION FORECAST

What will the second half of 2016 hold?

The last 12 months as seen a rapid change in focus for many within the construction industry. From the resources boom, many have moved into the commercial, and residential market. However,  within the industry, there are predictions of a surplus in the inner city Brisbane market leaving the potential for a market drop due to an oversupply of 27,000 dwellings next year.

Driving the reduction in residential construction is Queensland’s population growth which is projected to continue at 2.0 per cent per annum. This rate is slightly lower than has been experienced historically, would result in approximately 40,000 new households each year.

Within South East Queensland, it is predicted that the market will slow in the later part of the year with the Gold Coast being the exception.

Like Brisbane, growth in the Gold Coast has been led by investor-driven multi-unit developments and buoyant employment growth. Coupled with large-scale infrastructure projects which will continue as the venue development for the 2018 Commonwealth Games gains ground and the second stage of the light rail network gets underway.

Electrogroup CEO, Glenn Porter, believes a big part of weathering the storm is diversity. “We are seeing a significant turn from the residential investor market towards the owner occupier area in Brisbane. And with this people are looking for stronger teams that they keep on longer than just one project.

By keeping an Apprentice on longer, costs are reduced for areas such as inductions. They also learn the culture of the company and become a part of the host company’s team.

Managing the costs of projects and ensuring profit is becoming more of a priority daily. As such,  we are seeing a high demand for apprentices who are not only fulfilling that role but also taking the place of trade assistants due to lower costs” he said.

Driving cost control is also the fact that residential building work costs have risen by 4.6 per cent over the year.

According to Master Builders, over the next 12 months, the health and aged-care sectors will continue to see a demand due to an ageing population. This is also propelled by the Queensland government’s investment in hospital infrastructure.

Additionally, the Australian Financial Review reported that as many as 76,000 new residential aged care places will be required by 2023-24 to meet demand.

The tourism arena is also set to bolster the Queensland economy with hotels and resorts making up nearly half of the commercial projects in planning with $22.9 billion of work in the pipeline.

Australian Construction Industry Forum has suggested that the dollar value of construction work done on major resource projects throughout Australia could drop from a forecast $38.6 billion in the current financial year to $21.5 billion in 2019/20, further enforcing resources workers need to diversify their skills.

Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates the overall number of people employed in Australia’s mining sector to be down by more than 50,000 compared with the height of the boom in May 2012.

“Within the training arena what we are seeing is a transition from resources to civil infrastructure projects, and obviously, with that timing is going to be everything. Candidates are looking to upskill so that their resume jumps out, particularly in more senior or supervisor roles.

Electrogroup also sees a focus on renewables training with the amount of solar farm development approvals across Queensland and New South Wales” said Mr Porter.

Recently The Climate Council has predicted that the residential battery storage market has the potential to grow to $24 billion within Australia. The possibility of the renewables market to boom in Queensland is further enforced by State Government’s target of one million rooftops or 3000 megawatts of solar photovoltaics (PV) in Queensland by 2020.

“We have seen what could be the game changer for power consumers and with that, as part of the industry, we have to change our approach. As such Electrogroup now offer a Certificate IV in Electrical – Photovoltaic systems and currently developing an off-grid course aimed at Electricians” said Mr Porter.

And the demand for solar in Queensland will continue to grow. Recently the State Government released figures showing that rooftop solar panels now had a similar capacity to the Gladstone power station, the state’s biggest power plant and has one of the highest penetration rates of rooftop photovoltaic panels in the world.

Click here to find out more about the Certificate IV in Electrical – Photovoltaic systems

Creating clarity around instrumentation

Creating clarity around instrumentation

by John Beerwald, Electrogroup Instrumentation Trainer

Have you ever been in in the middle of an episode of Star Trek only to realise suddenly that you have no clue what all those gizmos, gadgets and other scientific instruments actually do?

If so, your problem is solved. Instruments and technical tools are used for viewing, displaying, recording and measuring.  Some of these devices end in “meter” instruments for measuring, “scope” instruments for viewing or “graph” instruments for displaying.

Welcome to the fascinating world of the Instrument Technician.

A dual-trade Electrician is one who has attained both the electrical as well as the instrumentation qualifications. Instrumentation, not to be confused with musical or surgical instruments, is defined as the art and science of measurement and control of process variables within a production or manufacturing area.

The process variables used in industries are level, pressure, temperature, density, humidity, flow, chemical measurements such as pH, conductivity and turbidity. Other measurements include force, speed, position and electrical measurements such as current, voltage and energy.

Without the ability to measure and control the above mentioned process variables, process industries from such diversities as power generation, water treatment plants, petrochemical through to coal and gold mining and chemical and food processing would barely exit.

Many of the measurements on which modern life, depends upon are hidden. Through the precise dimensions (measurement) and electrical properties of many components of a car or computer will make the difference between functioning and failure.

We all make measurements every day of our lives often not realising how often we glance at our watches, the speedometer of our car, the data usage on our electronic devices and less frequent figures on our power or gas bills. Our homes are protectedby such measurement devices such as smoke alarms, maintained by the measurement sensors in air conditioning units and temperature devices that maintain hot water systems at an even regulated temperature.

In any process industry, a measuring instrument is a device for measuring a physical quantity or variable process. The measuring device may be simple or complex but their function is to convert a physical quantity into a measurable electrical or pneumatic equivalent value. To maintain and calibrate measuring instruments, the technician must have a sound knowledge of physics and mathematics as well as calibrating techniques and protocols.

Finally, the Instrument Technician must have a sound knowledge of measurement standards which are used to define measurement units such as the meter, kilogram, temperature and time (second). It is important, in trade and commerce that sellers and buyers agree on accurate measurements and must agree on units, and conditions and methods of measurements to be used.

The risks involved in failing to calibrate and measure correctly could lead to safety incidents, wastage, fines or litigations and increased down time.

Having spent many years as an Instrument Technician across a variety of industries, the knowledge gained is portable and would provide employment in various fields. As technology continues to advance, instruments and instrumentation methodology is seldom far behind. Simply put, instrumentation is a never-ending learning curve with an increasing market demand.

With industry becoming increasingly automated, instrument technicians are needed virtually anywhere there are control and metering systems. Instrument technicians may be employed in the following industries:

  • pulp and paper processing
  • thermal power generation
  • mining, petrochemical and natural gas
  • industrial and commercial manufacturing
  • industrial construction
  • industrial instrument servicing

Experienced instrument technicians may advance to leadership positions such as Engineering Technicians, or move into business development.

Mastering eProfiling with Elim Lui

Mastering eProfiling
with Elim Lui

113 GeProfiling is often considered an overwhelming task by both Apprentices and their employers. Elim Lui, the Electrogroup eProfiling specialist, explains that the system can be a simple tool that will be your trusted partner during your apprenticeship. Often we see people looking at the system and thinking “Do I really need to do this?” and the reality is yes.

eProfiling is a workplace skill monitoring tool which is used throughout an apprenticeship by the apprentice capturing the tasks undertaken in the workplace. Without the eProfiling system you cannot assess the progress of what has been done on the job and whether or not the apprentice has gained enough experience to meet the industry endorsed advisory target” said Elim, who first began working with eProfiling over 7 years ago.

“At Electrogroup Apprentices, we are very lucky because we take a very hands-on approach to how the system is used with our Apprentices. I make sure that every new Apprentice we employ has a thorough induction and show them all the little hints and tips to make life easier.

It is essential for the apprentices to submit their eProfiling cards regularly preferably each week and monitor the reports available to view online at least each stage of their apprenticeship. Also, a critical part of the process is that employers are obligated to check and approve cards. An apprentice cannot progress if eProfiling is not up to date” Ms Lui said.

If eProfiling is not maintained an Apprentice will be referred by their employer or Registered Training Organisation to the Queensland Department of Education and Training. An Apprentice will then be notified to update their eProfiling or face of fine of up to $400.

“A worst case scenario is that an Apprentice could be held back from progressing to the next stage of their apprenticeship. This is considered as failing to progress and can lead to cancellation of the apprenticeship” said Ms Lui.
Some of the hints and tips Elim suggests include:

  • When using the app – ensure to refresh to sync data into eProfiling database
  • If employed directly with an employer select your supervisor when submitting cards to ensure they receive an email notification
  • If employed by GTO as your employer you need to ensure a card summary report is printed out and signed by host then returned back to GTO for approval online or organise for host to be linked to your account (check with your employer for procedures)

  • Monitor your progress report and overall progression report regularly

  • Ensure you are entering the correct supervision and support level (legal requirements)
  • Where electrical/ non-electrical work is performed ‘Work practices’ must be entered
  • More than 4 weeks of eProfiling outstanding can lead to being issued a fine of up to $400 issued by the Department of Education and Training
  • Employers should log in regularly to check for cards pending approval to update

Tips for Apprentices

  • Click on ‘Support’ where you’ll find FAQ’s, How to…? and other handy information

Employers

  • Click on ‘Support’ where you’ll find FAQ’s, How to…? and other handy information
  • Click on ‘Notifications’ to subscribe to reports to monitor your apprentice’s progress

Struggling with your eProfiling? Just give Elim a call on 3274 1533 or drop her an email at eprofiling@electrogroup.com.au

The future of solar power in Australia

The future of solar power in Australia

with Electrogroup CEO, Glenn Porter

The announcement of Tesla’s Powerwall recently has demonstrated its huge potential to change the way we use and generate electricity.  Australian consumers have already started changing the power dynamic. Individual households are quickly becoming one of the biggest disruptors in Australia’s electricity network, particularly in Queensland.

In September, it was revealed that Australia has the highest rate of household solar panel installation in the world, with 15 percent of Australian homes having rooftop solar. It makes sense. Our largely flat, sun-drenched country provides one of the most suitable environments for generating solar energy in the world. In some extra remote areas, generating off-grid power has become a necessity more than a luxury.

Yet even though Australia has almost double the amount of household solar installations than the next highest country (which is Belgium, with around 7 percent), we fall behind thanks to a lack of large-scale solar projects. Despite our major lead in residential solar panels, the absence of many big installations drops Australia back to the sixth rank in terms of total solar installations per capita.

But that may be set to change over the next decade. Earlier in October, Australia’s Energy Networks Association joined with the CSIRO to hold a workshop that gathered a bunch of industry stakeholders, government regulators, energy retailers and customer representatives among others to discuss the evolution of Australia’s energy network.

The largest change that has taken place over the last decade is the decreasing price and increasing the efficiency of solar technology. Ten years ago, electricity companies could never have anticipated how quickly solar would become an affordable option for installation on residential blocks. As a result, they were blindsided by the adoption of on-site solar generation, leaving us with inappropriate tariffs and a grid that wasn’t designed for the two-way energy traffic it’s now seeing.

Now, the industry is ready to be shaken up again by the introduction of viable energy storage systems like Tesla’s Powerwall, and even the more flexible modular battery that Enphase Energy is trialling over in South Australia (which is the state with the highest rate of solar adoption in the world, at 25%). While we’ve covered a few of the kneejerk reactions of electricity companies to Tesla’s Powerwall, the workshop addressed the fact that energy retailers would have to adapt to this technology or risk getting left behind. Consumers are forcing their way into the energy business now more than ever, and that’s not looking like changing anytime soon.

In fact, for Australia’s energy networks the organisation that are responsible for ferrying electricity from the generators to the customers, and sometimes the other way around consumer storage can come as an advantage. Without battery technology to store their excess energy, solar households are currently generating electricity during daylight hours, selling some back to the grid but still adding to peak strain on the grid during the evening.

Solar users can have a negative impact on the network and on other consumers due to a false sense of confidence knowing they have solar panels installed, some consumers are far less careful about minimising their energy usage, even during the night while their panels aren’t actively generating energy.

Having the ability to store excess solar energy to save for later takes some of the pressure off the grid, and could potentially result in a change in tariffs, benefiting even the people who can’t afford or can’t install solar themselves. Indeed, this is the kind of system that Ergon Energy is trailing in Queensland, with the use of a 5kW battery storage system.

One potentially important development in storage technology that was raised at the workshop was the idea of long-term energy storage. Even in Australia, there is a major difference between solar energy output in summer and winter, so the idea of collecting energy to be stored over a matter of months rather than days could reduce energy demand when the days start getting shorter.

All of these technological advances seem to point to Aussies potentially being able to disconnect from the grid entirely if they are able to manage their power usage and production intelligently. The workshop’s forecast predicts that full disconnection from the grid won’t become economically feasible for regular metro households until somewhere between 2030-40, primarily due to battery costs. However, Tesla’s influence coming into the market soon, that date came a lot sooner.

Interestingly enough, the workshop’s proposals don’t actively seek to stop consumers from disconnecting from the grid. Indeed, some stakeholders even discussed the possibility of assisting in strategically disconnecting certain customers from the grid, when it would be of most advantage to both networks and customers.

Tammy Stanton, carving the way for women in construction

Tammy Stanton, carving the way for women in construction

Co-director of Platinum Electrical Morningside, Tammy Stanton was recently awarded the Construction Skills Queensland’s Construction Female of the Year. Ms Stanton who is the first female ever elected to the Electrical And Communications Association of Queensland chats about some of her inspirations and challenges in her career.

What made you make the change from IT to the electrical industry? 

It was primarily for my family.  My husband’s business was growing and our children needed more support.  I feel the move to the electrical industry has given me the opportunity to support everyone in my family and keep my sanity.

What
about
 your 
business 
are
 you 
the 
most
passionate about? 

Everything! But would have to say most importantly – our team. We have such an awesome team that I am so proud of.  Everyone makes decisions like it’s their business and I feel very fortunate to have their support.

What was the most important thing you learned in school? 

How to write an essay and get it in on time.  I think it has helped me throughout my career and particularly now when completing tenders.

Tell me about someone who has influenced your career? 

It would have to be my husband.  He has always been supportive in everything I have done and I would not have been able to accomplish all I have without him.  He had to take a lot of the burden of the kids when I was completing my MBA and in meeting with Master Electricians. He also wholeheartedly accepted any changes to the business that I implemented as a result of my study.  He is also the one that encouraged me to do my Cert III in telecommunications and I will be forever grateful to him.

What do you think will change about the electrical industry over the next five years? 

I think the next 5 years will see a rapid change in renewable energy technologies  (battery storage) that will change training needs in the future.  I think both the current decline in apprenticeship numbers and the changing technologies will be the major drivers for change in electrical apprenticeships in the next 5 years.

What is the single best piece of advice you would give to an electrical apprentice? 

Keep a diary of everything you do.

Tell me about a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career. 

I worked in London during the merger of SmithKline Beecham to Glaxowelcome and managed the project of communications between the 2 organisations before the merger to GlaxoSmithKline.  This project was an integral part to the success of the merger and also was my very first project management experience. I consider it one of the most significant as I not only learnt a lot but gained that self-confidence in my abilities that has seen me into the future.

The best book you ever read was? 

Dealing with the tough stuff by Alison Hill.  Quick and easy read that made so much sense to me!!

What might someone be surprised to know about you? 

I have ranidaphobia – fear of frogs!!

What is one goal — either personal or professional — that you would like to accomplish during your lifetime? 

To attend every V8 supercar event in a year.