3 August 2020

Upskill Program helping people to trade up

People with non-mining backgrounds are being supported by Whitehaven to formally upskill and get additional qualifications through the Trades Upskill Program at our Maules Creek Mine.

Developed with Tamworth TAFE, the program aims to help people with existing experience and qualifications get the additional skills most suited for a mine site. The Program was initially launched to grow the collective skills of the maintenance team and to attract and retain new people to the workforce as the mine ramped up operations.

“We wanted to welcome people from non-mining backgrounds, like agricultural or road truck mechanics, but also find a way to fill in the gaps if there were skills or training modules specific to mining required,” said Mark Irwin, Maintenance Manager at the Maules Creek Mine.

“Through the Trades Upskill Program we support the individuals through the workplace skills component and by funding the training expenses, but the individual needs to arrange any offsite requirements like days at TAFE themselves. This way it’s a joint commitment from the company and the individual,” added Mark.

Ryan Boyle, Maintenance Supervisor at Maules Creek, is one of the first two members of the maintenance team to complete the program, and is now a qualified plant mechanic. The length of the program depends on the individuals’ existing qualifications, and in Ryan’s case took about 14 months to complete.

“After a decade in the defence industry, I thought there’d be a lot of opportunity at Maules Creek because it was a new and growing mine,” said Ryan.

“I’d previously worked on military equipment, like Protected Mobility Vehicles and Armoured Personnel Carriers, but I was interested in working on the type of equipment used in mining.”

Ryan started at Maules Creek as a fitter in 2018, then became a leading hand in the maintenance workshop before considering taking part in the Trade Upskill Program.

“I was already a qualified heavy diesel mechanic, but when there was a chance to upskill to get a plant mechanic qualification, I took up that opportunity,” said Ryan.

“That additional formal training not only taught me new skills, but it also refreshed my memory on skills that had gotten a bit rusty over the years.

“Now I certainly feel more qualified in all aspects of my role and as a supervisor, I’m fully across what all my team are working on and am better placed to help out on a wider range of tasks.”

Pictured: Ryan Boyle, Maintenance Supervisor at Maules Creek

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