Accelerate Magazine #104 - October 2019

Page 68

68

Australia & NZ // Technology

Hydrocarbon Training Building Momentum in Australia Vocational training provider TAFE believes that R290 training is crucial to prepare the Australian HVAC&R industry for the future.

— by Ilana Koegelenberg

T

he propane (R290) training program offered by Technical And Fur ther Education (TAFE) New South Wales (NSW) is growing in Australia and Fiji in preparation for what is expected to a much greater role for the refrigerant, according to Glenn Marsh, its Head Teacher for Air Conditioning and Refrigeration. Marsh took part in the “Fridgies of the Future” panel discussion at ATMOsphere Australia 2019, sharing information on how TAFE is faring with its natural refrigerant training, particularly hydrocarbons like R290.

ADDRESSING PERCEIVED DANGERS Marsh shared teaching perspectives for the region, giving insight into how the courses currently work and what students are learning. He also spoke about future plans. TAFE has a vision for a two-day short course for R290 where the theory part can be done online, backed up by short, sharp practical events. The intent is to minimize disruption to normal business routines. He then spoke about the challenges and opportunities for hydrocarbon training in Australia and Fiji. Marsh cited the industry’s concerns about the perceived dangers of hydrocarbons as the main reason for the slow uptake of these systems in the region. He blamed the public’s poor understanding of hydrocarbons and skewed social media representation of accidents. “I worry that people are going to blame the substance, rather than the person working on it,” he said. “That’s where we need to do the training and get the social understanding.”

Opportunities include upskilling the work force and improving understanding, particularly regarding the benefit to the environment and energy efficiency. Marsh suggested encouraging students to be the voice of the industry online, aiding healthy social perceptions where hydrocarbons themselves are not blamed for incidents. Marsh called on manufacturers to make hydrocarbon technologies more accessible and more integrated with training providers. He also suggested that natural refrigerants should be made a core, compulsory module for all refrigeration students. He ended with a call to action, sharing a quote from the TAFE NSW 2017 valedictorian, Mohammed Shuaib, who said: “Some say that ‘Knowledge is Power’. I would like to add one thing to that – Action. Knowledge with Action is Power!” IK

TAFE NSW is a government-run training provider that offers more than 1,000 courses, including a multitude of HVAC&R programs. It has trained nearly 3,000 apprentices in refrigeration and has offered hydrocarbon system training since 2010. Marsh has been in the industry for 26 years and has a big passion for hydrocarbons, he explained at ATMOsphere Australia, held in May. He believes that the training sector needs to be ahead of the curve when it comes to changing over to natural refrigerants. “We need to be in readiness for the tides of change that are coming,” he said. He echoed the words of his colleague Steve Smith, Head of Skills Point Team – Refrigeration, who is of the firm opinion that “natural refrigerants will be the sole remaining option in 15 to 20 years. Evidence points that synthetics will be non-existent or at best extremely expensive.”

Accelerate Magazine // October 2019

Glenn Marsh of TAFE NSW, presenting at ATMOsphere Australia 2019 in May.


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