Electrical network training facility to improve real world skills

GippsTAFE and Zinfra Southern Contracting (Zinfra) have signed a significant contract for the redevelopment of the Chadstone campus electricity training yard in Melbourne.

The TAFE provides the majority of training for apprentices and trainees employed in the Victorian electricity distribution industry.

Zinfra senior project estimator Howard Lewis said, as an infrastructure service provider, the company recognises the importance of a strategic relationship with GippsTAFE and the benefits improved training facilities will provide to the wider industry.

“I noticed when I looked at GippsTAFE’s drawings that the proposed plans were limited to one network and didn’t offer apprentices the network variety you get in real life,” he said.

Mr Lewis, who trained at the GippsTAFE facility, drew upon his experience in the field in both Australia and South Africa to recommend what he describes as, “more of a sense of what the industry can offer and a number of different network configurations so apprentices can see what they’re going to see in the real world.”

Accordingly, Zinfra’s proposal took into consideration the differing approaches of the Victorian electricity network owners, as well as a number of purposely non-compliant overhead and public lighting structures, to enable apprentices and trainees to conduct inspection audits on structures with known defects to help ascertain and test their knowledge of applicable standards and specifications.

Substituting outdated public lighting lanterns with lanterns that are current standard for all Victorian networks, was also recognised in the proposal, as was a range of power and fibre optic cable sizes for training purposes.

The upgrade of the existing high and low voltage overhead and underground training network includes replacement and reconfiguration of overhead structures and conductors; underground cables; transformers and switchgear; the installation of communications conduits and fibre optic cables; and demolition of specified yard storage buildings.

GippsTAFE executive director of academic programs Carol Elliot said the upgrade to the TAFE’s existing electrical network practical training facilities will better reflect actual Victorian network configurations and improve practical training for apprentices and trainees.

“GippsTAFE is extremely pleased with the prospect of adding further value to the partnership with industry on the Energy and Telecommunications campus. We are proud to be working with an electrical network specialist with the expertise and innovation such as that of Zinfra,” she said.