Over two years ago, Phil Ladson and I began investigating the training, or lack thereof, for Designers within our sector.  We looked at the traditional names of Estimators and Detailers and were informed by Government departments that they didn’t help in creating a career pathway as no one knew what the job was by the titles.

It was at this stage that we spoke with many fabricators and decided to sexy up the title and we began referring to Estimators and Detailers as Timber Systems Designers.  Most of the time I refer to these roles as designers when speaking to people within the industry but when I speak to people from outside our industry and you refer to Timber Systems Designers (TSD’s), they automatically understand the positions we are talking about.

That was the first step.  The second step was to identify what was needed to train people effectively to increase the skilled designers available for our sector.  We have 276 fabricator plants in Australia and I have no doubt if I had 276 qualified TSD’s I would find them all a job today.

The problem was the National Qualifications were outdated and no one was taking up the training which has resulted in a serious problem of threats of losing funding all together at the federal level for all training within the forest and wood products sector.

Again, the problem associated with the National Qualifications is the process is a long one and doesn’t provide a quick outcome.

So, with the assistance of ForestWorks a meeting was organised with the Victorian Skills Commissioner to discuss the development of a short course in Timber Systems Design.  A group of passionate people from our sector including representatives of the three nail plate companies and fabricators came together and over a course of 4-5 months created the short course content.

The Victorian Skills Commissioner has not only now deliver a new short course for our sector titled 22522VIC Course in Timber Systems Design but has also provided funding so industry can now create the deliverables to ensure, once again, that this is an industry driven training package and delivered in a way that we know will create skilled TSD’s for our future.

We wanted the training course to go back to basics and teach the underlining core skills needed.  The course has 7 Core Units covering:

  • Work effectively as a timber systems designer
  • Develop sketches and drawings for costing timber floor, wall frame and roof systems
  • Communicate and interact effectively in the workplace
  • Follow WHS policies and procedures
  • Take-off material quantities
  • Read and interpret plans and specifications
  • Carry out measurements and calculations

FTMA’s training consultant, Phil Ladson is working closely with Timber Training Creswick and TABMA Training to finalise the training material and assessment work plus the classroom deliverables and we believe that by early 2020 we will be able to introduce this training in Victoria.

Best of all the Victorian Government will fund the course ensuring it is cost effective for people to enrol and once the course has been delivered in Victoria, other states and territories can write to the Victorian Skills Commissioners office seeking permission to deliver in their states which we have been assured will not be an issue.

We could not have achieved this without the unbelievable commitment by Sarah Fitzpatrick who was representing ForestWorks, Andrew Donnison of the Victorian Skills Commissioners Officer and the committee existing of Anita Day (Multinail) who was the chair, Phil Ladson (FTMA), Anita Weller (Pryda), Nathan Quarrell (Dahlsens), Cathy Fraser (MiTek), Wendy Kimpton (Dahlsens) and the consultants used Teresa Signorello & Susan Fechner.

In the meantime, a new committee has been formed through ForestWorks to address the National Qualifications so stayed tuned for more information on this.

Once again, a huge thank you to the Victorian Government and FTMA looks forward to working with TABMA Training and Timber Training Creswick to deliver this training in 2020.