Business, Earthmoving News, Jobs & Training

Komatsu turns soil on Perth training facility

Earthmoving manufacturer Komatsu is set to commence construction on a new $6 million state-of-the-art apprentice and innovation training facility in Perth today.

An artist’s impression of the new Komatsu training facility in Perth

Based in the suburb of Welshpool in the city’s southeast, the facility is expected to be completed in the first half of 2022 and will be fully operational in the following three months.

The facility will feature new modern workshop training rooms totalling 1595 square metres, as well as a 30-tonne crane in the heavy lifting bay; with five tonne crane capacity in the rest of the workshop and specific lab rooms dedicated to hydraulics, electrical and electronics training.

Komatsu says the facility will deliver a highly interactive and technically advanced level of training, to help establish career development opportunities for their growing fleet of technicians – particularly in the areas of autonomous and smart construction – which the company says will play a key role in the future of the industry.

Once completed, Komatsu aims to train up to 500 apprentices across the next three to four years whilst maintaining their 94 per cent retention rate; a figure above the industry standards of 60-70 per cent.

The training centre will also reflect Komatsu’s ongoing expansion of its autonomous haulage fleet in the Pilbara, where the first commercially available units were introduced in 2008. Currently, over 385 driverless trucks have been deployed in the region.

The centre will also serve as Komatsu’s west coast training hub for businesses and industry partners.

Komatsu training academy general manager Janine Gurney says the facility will offer technicians not only technical training but also recognised qualifications in the fields of engineering, civil construction, automotive and mobile plant technology.

“The innovative program has reportedly achieved measurable results, with apprentices being six months ahead of their peers doing traditional apprenticeships and have a one-year advantage at the completion of their training,” Gurney says.

“We also have a strong focus on diversity and inclusion, with a purpose-built facility offering an even balance of amenity for both men and women which is the new norm for Komatsu facilities. In fact, last year Komatsu achieved a 50:50 gender ratio apprenticeship uptake which is something we’re very proud of.”

An artist’s impression of the new Komatsu training facility in Perth

Komatsu’s announcement of the new facility follows a report by The Resources Sector Workforce, which indicates as many as 40,000 extra resources workers will be required over the next two years to fill a labour shortage void in the sector.

The report outlined that the sector’s skills shortage could reach 33,000 people by September 2023 and is the result of competition from eastern states, internal competition in WA projects, an overall decline in interstate migration and the many ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Komatsu regional general manager – western, Glenn Swift, outlined some of the earthmoving and construction industry’s labour pressures.

“Our WA operation works heavily with the mining industry, where a large portion of the workforce are interstate, fly-in-fly-out workers,” Swift says.

“While border closures meant many were unable to fly in, the general uncertainty of the pandemic left many experienced and skilled workers opting to stay closer to home – placing even greater pressure on the existing skills shortage.”

The apprentice and innovation training facility forms part of Komatsu’s greater investment in the west which has seen the business double its annual training investment to $12 million to provide increased training and development opportunities in WA.

The facility will also be a complete solar plant with LED lighting as one of ten major solar facilities undertaken by Komatsu over the past three years.

The centre follows the completion of Komatsu’s $7 million east coast training facility, based in Sherwood, Brisbane, completed in 2013.

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