Liebherr lines up the workers of tomorrow

National technical training manager James Ward using the R 9150 simulator with apprentices.

The original equipment manufacturer is ensuring its workforce will be equipped for the changing demands of the mining industry by investing in apprentices.

Liebherr-Australia is building the future of its workforce with a bespoke apprenticeship program that will drive development of the company’s next generation of employees.

With skills shortages again emerging for mining and METS (mining equipment, technology and services) companies, the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) has this year moved its apprenticeship program in house to improve the training and support they receive.

Liebherr-Australia has 48 apprentices based at its Perth, Adelaide, Mt Thorley and Mackay branches in the first year of the company-designed program.

The new, in-house platform replaces Liebherr-Australia’s previous system of using group training organisations that employed apprentices and placed them with the company.

Liebherr-Australia expects that the direct employment with apprentices will help build loyalty within its workforce and protect the company against skills shortages.

The new program will benefit the apprentices by giving them a more personalised training platform with increased opportunities across Liebherr-Australia’s network of operations.

Liebherr-Australia is exposing the apprentices to the unique activities at each branch across the country.

The apprentices will also be able to join Liebherr’s experienced servicepeople on more field trips to customer projects for firsthand mine site experiences.

Liebherr-Australia executive general manager customer service, mining Tony Johnstone says the program is improving how the OEM engages with its apprentices.

“It is important that an OEM like Liebherr sets up programs like this to develop our future workforce,” Johnstone tells Australian Mining

“The program is tailor made to reflect the changing needs of apprentices and also the direction that both Liebherr and the mining industry are moving.

“It will offer our apprentices more opportunities than in the past and a level of training that hasn’t been available for them at the company until now.”

The new-look program proved popular with aspiring apprentices during the application phase last year.

Almost 1700 people from across the country applied for a position on the four-year program ahead of the 2020 intake that was announced last November.

Liebherr-Australia national apprenticeship and training coordinator Ellee Vivian says the new program has been largely developed based off feedback from past and current apprentices.

James Ward training apprentices at the Liebherr facility in Adelaide.

 

“The apprentices previously felt there had been something missing in terms of the levels of communication, the focus on each of them and the type of learning opportunities they had,” Vivian says.

“We wanted to give the apprentices more of these things, so we have set up a new program that is specifically run by Liebherr that gives them more opportunities and engagement.”

Since the program started in January, the OEM has focussed on providing the apprentices with training that reflects Liebherr’s fleet of mining equipment.

They are receiving a broad overview of the company’s service capabilities, its development from a technological perspective and the safety initiatives it has introduced.

“As the mining industry has changed it has sometimes been difficult for companies like Liebherr to get the right human resources here in Australia,” Vivian says.

“By starting the apprentices with the company from day one we can train them to be Liebherr specialised and give them a proper overview of us as a business.

“They then become better tradespeople for Liebherr because they have received specific training from us; then we have a constant flow of tradespeople coming through.”

Liebherr-Australia has also designed the apprenticeship program with more than just the technical skills required for its equipment in mind.

It has recognised that the apprentices, and workers generally in the mining industry, require a range of life skills to complement what they can technically provide for the company. 

The program also emphasises the job-associated importance of physical and mental health with what may end up being remotely based jobs, as well as giving practical advice and guidance with managing finances.

Johnstone believes the competition for a spot on the program shows that mining companies and OEMs continue to offer an attractive working environment.

“This program has been designed to attract the next generation of workers to Liebherr and the mining industry in general. The popularity of the program during the application process is a good sign that both have a strong appeal with the workers of tomorrow,” Johnstone concludes.

This article also appears in the February issue of Australian Mining.

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