18 January 2012

Training apprentices in Laos

RMIT University has trained apprentices in Laos, in what is one of the few transnational apprenticeship programs delivered by Australian institutions.

The collaboration with RMIT has been running since 2006, with the first 16 apprentices graduating in 2010.

Late last year representatives from the School of Engineering TAFE attended the second graduation of the Lao apprentices at the MMG LXML Sepon mine in the Vilabouly district.

Those attending were Chris Barnes, Head of School, Franklin O'Carroll, Manager, New Industry Programs, and Caryn Nery, Manager, Transnational Education.

Ms Nery said RMIT was justifiably proud of the latest graduation from the five-year-old program.

Thirty-seven employees from the gold and copper mine in Savannakhet province received RMIT Certificate III qualifications.

The graduation ceremony took place at the mine and was attended by family members of the graduates and local officials.

Most of those graduating were enrolled in the mine's apprenticeship program, which was established to increase the number of local community members able to do skilled jobs.

The graduates received a qualification in one of seven trades: carpentry, fabrication, refrigeration, mechanical, electrical, automotive or instrumentation.

This followed four years of studies conducted concurrently with four years of on-the-job training.

The qualification is equivalent to that undertaken by apprentices in Australia and assessments were also carried out by the Lao-German Technical College so that a Lao-accredited qualification can be granted.

The studies included an annual 28-day intensive training course run by RMIT trainers at the Trades Training Workshop on site.

On-the-job training involved working alongside and being mentored by maintenance supervisors and tradespersons. Those who completed the training were given jobs at the mine.

BounGneun Phonenavongdeuane, from Ban Nasalor in Vilabouly District, gained her certificate in refrigeration and will work with the mine's maintenance department.

She said that graduating with a high qualification was very important for her.

"It will bring many changes for my future, especially related to my performance in the job I do," Ms Phonenavongdeuane said.

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