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Townsville boilermaker Donnelly Madden is among more than 40 trades professionals polishing their skills for the technological advances of the fourth industrial revolution through a pilot training scheme.

The group is studying for a Diploma of Applied Technologies – the first of its kind in Queensland.

The Queensland Government has invested $300,000 in the Higher Level Apprenticeship Pilot and has partnered with TAFE Queensland, Skills Lab and Ai Group to encourage industry to embrace new digital technologies.

Mr Madden enrolled in the course with the support of his employer, TEi Services, and said the training was showing him a whole new side to engineering.

“I’ve been a boilermaker for six years and I am also an IT hobbyist at home and create 3D prints and designs. When I found out about the Diploma of Applied Technologies I was really interested in the training,” Mr Madden said.

“For me, Industry 4.0 and applying advanced technology and knowledge is very crucial in the workplace. It could open up huge opportunities because it allows you to view industry in a different mindset.

“It is taking my boilermaking to a different standard and it’s opened up a lot of opportunities to make processes and tasks simpler, safer and more connected.”

TAFE Queensland general manager (north region) Tim Campbell said the Diploma of Applied Technologies mixed workplace learning with cutting-edge training at campuses in Townsville and Brisbane.

“For 15 weeks over two years, apprentices attend a TAFE Queensland campus to gain high-level skills to support the future growth of the manufacturing, engineering, energy, transport and infrastructure industries throughout Queensland and their supply chains,” Mr Campbell said.

“The training is helping workers develop the latest skills in automation and digitisation from product design to manufacture, enabling them to deliver new and efficient solutions for their employers and clients.”

TEi Services general manager Richard Parker said it was crucial that training like the Diploma of Applied Technologies was available to help workers upskill and support businesses.

“As newer technologies are incorporated into tooling, new skills and knowledge is required and having that knowledge in-house is advantageous,” Mr Parker said.

“There are current skill gaps in our region and these gaps will only get wider if we don’t keep up with technology.

“If manufacturing is to survive in Australia against low labour cost countries then we have to work smarter.

“We don’t have a monopoly on new technology and it is a given that we can’t compete on availability or cost of human resources, therefore we need to embrace new tech if we are to continue to thrive.”

Mr Parker said investing in automations would create opportunities for tradies in the workshop.

“The use of technology can be used for repetitive and mundane activities allowing us to re-deploy skilled labour to creative tasks,” Mr Parker said.

“We have rolled out WIFI through our workshop to enable equipment to be networked and we have a custom-built welding robot on order which is scheduled for installation later this year.

“These advancements will require people to feed data, feed product, and operate and maintain the technologically advanced equipment.

“This is only the start and it’s exciting to speculate where Industry 4.0 will take us.”

PHOTO: TEi Services general manager Richard Parker with boilermaker Donnelly Madden.