Challenger Institute of Technology’s innovative apprenticeship program in metals and engineering is allowing apprentices to save time and money by accelerating their training.
The Challenger SMART apprenticeship program utilises existing skills, industrial experience and knowledge to allow apprentices to complete their apprenticeships based on competency, rather than time served.
The program has now been expanded to include mechanical engineering and welding, in addition to the existing SMART apprenticeships in engineering fabrication.
Within two eventful years, the increasingly popular program has grown to involve 60 fabrication and welding and 10 mechanical engineering apprentices, as well as an estimated 30 employers.
One of these apprentices, Daniel McCord of Lakelands and Alex Reid of Baldivis, recently competed in the WorldSkills Australia National Competition at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre as part of the Engineering Excellence Team Challenge.
During the event, the mechanical and a metal fabrication apprentices manufactured a small, operational crane over three days. While the New South Wales duo won gold, the WA competitors were praised for their role in promoting the outstanding quality of SMART apprenticeship graduates.
Challenger metal fabrication lecturer Walter Bastiani said the apprentices revelled in progressing more quickly through their courses.
“Each student has total flexibility, moving through their formal training at their own pace, which helps to keep them engaged throughout their studies,” he said.
Before beginning the program, which is based in Henderson, lecturers ascertain the students’ skills with employers to determine an individual study plan and any eligibility to have their current skills recognised.
The apprentice then completes a Certificate III in Engineering. Under a tripartite agreement between the employer, apprentice and Challenger, the apprentice has the opportunity to increase their formal training to Certificate IV within the indentured time.
This may include the enhancement of skills not generally practiced in the workplace, completing coded welding certifications or computer assisted drafting.