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From mechanics to clean energy: how Andrew transferred his skills across careers

Training and skills case study

Sustainable energy practices are fast becoming a global standard. Here in Victoria, we have a growing industry across regional areas in wind and solar energy generators.

“The SEC (State Electricity Commission of Victoria) is looking to achieve 95% renewable energy by 2035,” says Andrew Edwards, who is a wind turbine technician trainer.

Andrew Edwards case study

“At the moment, there are general qualifications out there in the renewable sector, but no real apprenticeships, so that’s what we’re looking to change.”  

Andrew teaches renewable energies in the TAFE department, at Federation University Australia’s Asia Pacific Renewable Energy Training Centre (APRETC).

With a background as an automotive technician, Andrew did his mechanical apprenticeship two decades ago and practised as a mechanic before making the switch towards renewable energy.

“With my mechanical and electrical background, it was kind of a perfect fit. Turbines have a pretty similar system to cars and need regular servicing.”  

Andrew is not only Australia’s first BZEE accredited wind turbine technician trainer, but also the only person in Australia currently qualified to deliver the globally recognised training course. BZEE develops best-practice vocational training standards for the wind industry.

“After the two-month training course in Michigan (USA), I came back with the dual qualification as both a turbine technician and a trainer,” says Andrew.

With a range of transferable skills across trades, Andrew hopes to train more technicians from automotive and electrician backgrounds to draw them into the clean energy space.

“The interesting thing is how quickly it all changes,” he explains. “When the newest model car comes out, all the bells and whistles are stepped up – radar cruise control, collision avoidance systems, in-built cameras.”  

Andrew Edwards case study

“As technicians, we’re constantly reskilling and learning to keep up, which means the opportunities keep coming to try new things.”

He adds, “In Ballarat, we’re always looking for good technicians and good mechanics. The crossover to the wind industry is high because turbine technicians need that trade background.”

Andrew champions the idea of reskilling to work in emerging industries. He himself is paving the way for more people to grow into the clean energy space.

“It’s less of an active reskilling and more about transferring current skills to meet the needs of an evolving industry,” he says.