TAFE provides quality for Water Corporation

November 2022

Western Australia’s Water Corporation has worked closely with TAFE for over ten years to verify that its VET water qualification programs are high quality and in line with required national training standards.

In developing a safe workforce for a compliance driven industry, Water Corporation values the best practice that nationally recognised training offers. They’ve avoided the complexities of becoming a registered training organisation (RTO) themselves, by partnering with North Metropolitan TAFE to quality assure the Water Corporation’s internal training and assessment programs which are aligned to the National Water Training Package (NWP).

Industry leadership

Offering 65 courses within the nation’s biggest water training program, the Corporation’s Neil Hooley also sits on the national Water Industry Reference Committee and other State industry advisory bodies. He appreciates TAFE’s resources and reach across WA.

Most operational staff at Water Corporation undertake Certificates II, III and IV in Water Operations.

Our partnership is seamless to our employees, but they know TAFE is in the background ensuring high quality. Gaining a qualification is important to them, and they value a TAFE logo alongside ours on their certificate.

We work with TAFE in other areas too, such as our Engineering Associate Traineeships, with mutual benefit as they get access to our industry expertise

Neil Hooley, Manager Training, People and Capability, Water Corporation

Water Corporation can concentrate on its core business – water. But their training staff are very VET savvy. We’re developing a water operations centre at North Metropolitan TAFE with (Water Corporation’s Training area) support and advice. They know the latest and greatest in water! That’s making us the RTO of choice for these types of programs.

Claudia Baker, Portfolio Director, Science Resources & Greenskills, North Metropolitan TAFE

Relationship building

The time and effort both parties have invested to get relationships right has solidified the partnership. Trust and respect were built, with each valuing the other’s expertise.

There were some hurdles to establishing the right arrangements. We still invest a lot in regular communication, on a day-to-day basis and more formally. Our key quality contact works with Corporation staff once a week, and there’s structured twice-a-year meetings that include everyone.

Collaboration and support must be regular and genuine. You can’t fall into the trap of letting the partnership manage itself.

We can pick up the phone and negotiate other benefits like sending our lecturers there to boost their industry currency.

We aim to coach instead of telling people what to do. Our process has to fit into theirs.

Claudia Baker, Portfolio Director, Science Resources & Greenskills, North Metropolitan TAFE

We’ve worked at forming and sustaining relationships, with regular catch ups and clarification of roles. Communication is key, otherwise it falters.

A proper process to resolve any conflicts has been agreed, to stop any backwards and forwards and focus on a solution - to jointly ask ‘What’s a better way of doing this?’

We value an understanding of our business needs. There’s a difference between a student in a TAFE setting and one within industry. We’re a 24/7 business, we don’t work in semesters.

We’ve worked through things to smooth out how TAFE systems and processes work for us.”

Neil Hooley, Manager Training, People and Capability, Water Corporation

Both partners stress their advice is to invest mutually in an establishment phase, as well as to learn from and improve practice regularly.

North Metropolitan TAFE aims to develop a pipeline of qualified workers for water related jobs in other areas also, like mining and hospitality. Demonstrating a genuine relationship with industry, through partnerships like this one, is invaluable to this goal.