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Future of transport depends on skilled pipeline of workers

Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, along with their application in industrial processes, hold great promise in driving Australia towards the country’s net-zero goals.

However, a critical question remains: How can we establish effective training systems to prepare workers for an industry that is still being imagined? The future of hydrogen in Australia depends on skilled individuals, as they will play a pivotal role in creating a landscape where green hydrogen is abundant, fuelling our ambitions. Regrettably, the availability of such skilled workers will limit this industry’s ability to establish at pace.

This challenge led to the creation of a range of Hydrogen Microskills by TAFE NSW, in partnership with industry, to ensure training is infused with real-world expertise and innovation. These Microskills can be completed online in as little as two hours and provide essential knowledge to enhance safety for workers and consumers in this emerging field. 

This year Australia’s first commercial hydrogen refuelling station for heavy road vehicles opened at Port Kembla, New South Wales. Coregas, Australia’s largest owned industrial gases company, played a pivotal role in establishing this station. According to Coregas executive general manager Alan Watkins, “The company will start to switch its fleet from diesel to Hyzon Motors trucks.” 

An ARCC Hydrogen bus refuels at a Coregas refueling station; ARCC and Coregas are some of the many industry stakeholders that TAFE NSW has collaborated with to create the Hydrogen Microskills. Image: TAFE NSW

Like their electric vehicle counterparts, Hydrogen Fuel cell vehicles are emissions-free. They utilise fuel cells to generate electricity, powering the vehicle while emitting only water vapor.

To supply the hydrogen refuelling system for the Port Kembla facility, Coregas engaged Haskel Hydrogen Systems Group, who is one of the world’s leading providers of high-pressure industrial gas and liquid handling equipment. Hydrogen will be drawn from the Coregas plant and then pumped to a dispenser located 50 metres away at the vehicle refuelling station.

For TAFE NSW, partnering with Coregas and Haskel was an obvious choice to produce Hydrogen Microskills, as they had established a first-of-its-kind facility in Australia. Having previously worked with bus manufacturer Foton Motors to produce Hydrogen fuel cell training for automotive technicians, it made sense to bring additional stakeholders together to create Hydrogen Microskills. 

When bringing specialist partners together it is also important to ensure that everyone maintains a broad industry perspective and avoid content that is overly aligned to a specific brand.  This is vitally important given the competitive nature of an industry that supports energy producers, vehicle manufacturers, and infrastructure providers where Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) are still in their infancy.

In response, TAFE NSW collaborated with vehicle manufacturers ARCC and Foton Mobility, along with Fire and Rescue NSW and local councils. These organisations actively participated in ideation sessions to identify skills gaps. They also served as reviewers to ensure that the learning outcomes for the Microskills were met during development. This approach ensured that the Microskills remain relevant from as broad an industry perspective as possible. 

Rapid growth of EVs increases the need for new skills; TAFE NSW partners with Fire and Rescue NSW to increase safety and confidence for first responders attending EV incidents. Image: TAFE NSW

Furthermore, the rapid emergence of innovative technologies such as vehicles powered by hydrogen and lithium batteries necessitates continuous education for the industries involved in this sector.

By working with the Safety of Alternative and Renewable Energy Technology (SARET) team at Fire and Rescue NSW, TAFE NSW has been able to develop Microskills for First Responders, addressing the unique challenges posed by batteries in electric vehicles.

Since its official launch in March 2024, over 4000 emergency responders in NSW have participated in this intensive 2-hour training course. This training benefits not only NSW First Responders but all emergency response personnel.

The Microskill is also designed to assist NSW Police, NSW Ambulance, NSW Rural Fire Service, SES Volunteers, and tertiary responders such as motorway contractors and tow truck operators, equipping them to manage incidents involving lithium batteries.

As the transport industry hurtles toward a future of emission-free vehicles, the commitment of TAFE NSW remains unwavering.

Key to this is helping shape a workforce that can confidently handle tomorrow’s technologies and support safeguarding lives and communities. Through collaboration, innovation, and a shared vision, TAFE NSW and industry are building a safer, more sustainable future – one Microskill at a time.

If you want to learn more about TAFE NSW Microskills, which are available online, on demand, and can be completed in as little as two hours, simply visit:

  • Christopher Greentree is an industry innovation specialist, TAFE NSW.

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