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Lae Centre of Excellence for Technical Training

Certificate III in Metal Fabrication & Welding now available

Prepared for the LCCI by Debra Stirling (Centre of Excellence Taskforce)

The first public sector, technical trades’ apprenticeship training in Lae for over 20 years gets underway next month at the National Polytechnic Institute of PNG (“Lae Polytech”). There are still a handful of the 16 places available. A second course will commence a short period later.

These initial courses, a Certificate III in Metal Fabrication & Welding (sometimes called boiler making), involve a fast-track, intensive 10 month program – three 6-week block release training periods at the Polytech and the remainder in the workplace under supervision. Similar fast-track electrical, mechanical and other apprenticeship apprentice training is expected to follow.

This is the first step in the development of the Lae Centre of Excellence for Technical Training. The objective is to develop a home-grown, sustainable, educational model for technical education – operating within the public sector, in conjunction with the existing PNG educational system – to help lift standards and ensure that potential employers get what they need from graduating students. Not only is the training itself cost effective, but producing fully-qualified PNG citizens to fill positions offers employers significant, long term savings.

The project is being supported by a wide cross-section of stakeholders: The Australian Government (through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT)), the PNG Department of Higher Education, Research, Science & Technology; the PNG Department of Education; PNG industry Organizations and Companies (including the Lae Chamber of Commerce, PNG Chamber of Mines & Petroleum, PNG Chamber of Commerce; and individual companies); Lae Polytech; the PNG University of Technology; and others. DFAT is investing significantly in the project, including the provision of trainers (initially through APTC) and other positions, equipment, feasibility studies etc.

This first apprentice program is obviously a critical first step for the project, and industry can support it by:

  • Nominating and funding employees for courses
  • Providing placements for the many individuals who have applied to self-fund themselves but urgently need an industry position for 10 months
  • Funding or donating to various parts of the program – equipment, workshop or laboratory refurbishments, trainers, infrastructure etc.
  • Funding a scholarship/s or apprenticeship/s for future employees
  • Spreading the word and encouraging others to get behind it in the ways listed above.

The project includes development of a sustainable funding and governance model, and the building of close links between Lae Polytech and Unitech, including shared learning pathways and the mutual recognition of qualifications. It utilises existing infrastructure and works entirely within the public education system – building on what we already have in PNG; just making it significantly better. Strong engagement with industry underpins every aspect.

Technical training is fundamental to PNG economic development and industry growth. There is a critical need for trained PNG citizens to fill roles in fast growing industries like resources, mining, construction, manufacturing and processing, in order to avoid those roles having to be filled by expatriate employees. The more qualified people PNG produces, the better for all employers.

For further information, please contact:

Apprenticeship training:              Rick Harper (APTC Project Coordinator) or 7204 4031

Trevor Birney (APTC Country Manager, PNG) 3213 666 (w) 7264 0507 (m)

Lae Centre of Excellence Project: Lae Chamber of Commerce – either Alan or Nellie McLay

Debra Stirling (Centre of Excellence Taskforce)

+61 407 408 055 or