Current and future workers in the resources industry will be able to gain formal qualifications in remote operations for the first time following an automation partnership between Rio Tinto, the Western Australian Government and South Metropolitan TAFE.

A Certificate IV in Autonomous Control and Remote Operations has now been approved by the Training Accreditation Council (WA), providing students with the knowledge and skills needed to work at facilities such as Rio Tinto’s Remote Operations Centre in Perth.

The course is the highest-level accreditation approved to date in a partnership struck between Rio Tinto, the Western Australia Government and South Metropolitan TAFE in 2017.

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It follows accreditation earlier this year of a Certificate II in Autonomous Workplace Operations and a micro-credential course for trade-qualified, apprentices and technicians.

About 30 Rio Tinto employees will take part in the initial pilot of the Certificate IV course which will be delivered by South Metropolitan TAFE in 2020.

The course work combines work integrated learning giving our participants the opportunity to apply the new learning and knowledge to work related scenarios in the Control Centre. Pending successful completion of the pilot, the first Certificate IV course may start in 2021.

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Rio Tinto Iron Ore chief executive Chris Salisbury says:

“The key to any technology is our people and that’s why training and development is so important. These qualifications will provide employees, both current and future, with the skills and training needed to thrive in our evolving industry.

“These courses give Western Australian workers the opportunity to gain modern, portable qualifications, with skills that can be used right across the resources industry.

“Rio Tinto has committed A$2 million to the development of these qualifications which come at a critical time for the industry as we look to ensure vocational education and training programmes keep pace with the rapid changes brought about by technology and innovation.”

Chair of the WA Resource Industry Collaboration Jim Walker says:

“Western Australia continues to lead the world in the development and deployment of autonomous technologies in our resources sector, with these developments creating the need for new skills and pathways from education to employment.

“The accreditation of Australia’s first nationally recognised courses in automation is significant in that it will help ensure local workers are equipped with the skills necessary for these jobs, now and into the future.”