International: Australia’s Climate Action Centre
The Plumbing Industry Climate Action Centre (PICAC) is a unique industry-led organisation, formed in 2009 at the height of the millennium drought, which affected much of southern Australia and devastated communities, industries and the environment.
The aim of PICAC was to provide courses in green plumbing to address the skills shortage in sustainable plumbing at the time. PICAC now offers courses supporting the entire career life-cycle of plumbing, ranging from pre-apprenticeship and Certificate III apprenticeship courses (Plumbing and Sprinkler Fitting), through to a range of Certificate IV and post-trade courses, plus construction industry safety and OHS (occupational health and safety courses).
Leading the way
PICAC has five campuses around Australia, with three facilities in Victoria, one in New South Wales and one in Queensland. The latter was the most recent campus, opening in Beenleigh in 2019, which was built with $20 million in funding from Queensland State Government.
The centre delivers training in the trade sectors of sanitary plumbing, fire protection and mechanical services (HVAC), with a particular focus on the development of training in renewable hydrogen.
The facility accommodates between 400 to 500 fire protection and plumbing apprentices, 100 mechanical services or HVAC apprentices and 100 pre-apprenticeship trainees.
PICAC Beenleigh’s state of the art facilities include:
• In ground drainage and trench shoring training sand pit.
• Three-level training tower simulating three high rise building levels.
• Plumbing and mechanical services training facilities.
• 14-stationed valve room with various valve types for service, test and maintainance training.
• Purpose built fire protection training bays.
• Gaseous fire suppression systems training room.
• Functional electronic and diesel pumps installation for maintenance and live testing training.
• Functional control indication panels and warning alarm training area.
• Advanced welding facilities.
• Safety and High-Risk Licence training areas for forklift, EWP under/ over 11m, working at heights and on roofs, and boom lift.
Investing in skills
The Queensland facility is one of four renewable and hydrogen training centres pledged by the Palaszczuk government, which will enable apprentices and trainees to graduate with the skills needed to meet the needs of Australia’s future energy systems.
Annastacia Palaszczuk, Premier of Queensland, said: “Queensland is on track to become a global hydrogen heavyweight. We’ve announced our $62 billion Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan, which will drive renewable energy transformation. This includes developing our hydrogen industry, which is expected to grow by $19 billion and create 4,350 jobs by 2040.
“We’re on our way with 40 hydrogen projects across the state. And just this week I announced the North Queensland Super Hub, a partnership between Fortescue Future Industries (FFI) and clean energy operator Windlab, who have plans to produce green hydrogen at an industrial scale. But to realise the full economic potential of our energy transformation, we need to invest in our workforce – and this new $20 million training centre does that.”
Di Farmer, the Minister for Training and Skills Development, said the centre would deliver hundreds of extra apprentices each year: “The new world-class training centre includes specialised gas training equipment, lower carbon technology upgrades, roof-access work platforms, special hazards fire systems and state-of-the-art training rooms. It will expand training capacity from 700 to 1,100 apprenticeships and tradies per year, training workers in fire protection, fire control, plumbing and hydrogen.
“It is vital these skills are developed by trainees and apprentices now, so we have the workforce to deliver the projects we already have, and in the pipeline.”
Kevin Wellman, CIPHE CEO, says: “I have witnessed first hand the high quality training PICAC has at its disposal. The financial contribution made to offer training for thousands of installers is a great exemplar and one that others across the world should follow.”
PICAC is a partnership supported by the Plumbing and Pipe Trades Employees Union (PPTEU), Master Plumbers and Mechanical Services Association of Australia (MPMSAA), Master Plumbers Association of Queensland (MPAQ), National Fire Industry Association of Australia (NFIA) and the Air Conditioning and Mechanical Contractors Association (AMCA).