Queensland Alumina Limited (QAL)

Field training officer Ronny Phelps shows alumina producer Jay Cotter the correct procedure for using a hand tool at QAL’s on-site Practical Skills Training Facility.

QAL up-skills its employees

This year, QAL implemented several new training initiatives to ensure its workforce had the skills to operate safely and effectively.

The Certificate III in Process Plant Operations course was launched to provide structured training – linked to key competencies – for all non-trade plant operators over a two-year period.

There are currently 29 people on site undertaking this nationally-recognised programme, with 97 per cent of new starters choosing to complete the certificate.

A new on-site training facility was also unveiled in 2014 to develop the practical skills of new starters. The Practical Skills Training Facility was established to support new recruits in their initial eight-week training programme. It offers a hands-on look into the different tools and pieces of equipment the workforce will come into contact with and allows employees to see how the equipment operates in a safe and controlled environment.

The training facility gives the incoming workforce an opportunity to understand practically how the decisions they make while using different tools and equipment can impact their safety and others, as well as the overall process.

Pumps and packing, valve operation, purge water training and the isolation system are some of the areas of focus while employees are stationed at the facility.

Rio Tinto Alcan Yarwun

Process technician, Trevor Smith was a member of the project team and provided direct input into the process technician salary progression and career path project.

Process technician salary progression and career paths

Process technicians at Yarwun now have greater visibility on how to develop and progress their career within the business.

The project, which was led by representatives from Human Resources, Training, and Operations at the superintendent and process technician level, aimed to address concerns about the way that base salaries for process technicians were determined, and the career path options that were available to employees in these roles.

Following a series of workshops and consultation, the team developed a salary banding guideline for process technicians that clearly and consistently set out progression categories based on an employee’s experience, key competencies, performance and behaviour.

This project meant process technicians had a clear pathway to move through the organisation and pursue a technical or leadership career within the business.

Process technician, Trevor Smith, said the level of collaboration on this project really signified how important this project was to the business.

“It is a great demonstration that when all the necessary parties come to the table and work together, really effective solutions can be developed and implemented to bring about change,” Trevor said.