Leading Caterpillar® dealer WesTrac has welcomed a A$1 million ($678,616) State Government investment to expand the range of training services offered at its automation-focused WesTrac Technology Training Centre in Collie, in Western Australia’s South West.
The funding, announced on September 5 under the McGowan Government’s Collie Futures Industry Development Fund, will help WesTrac to build new training facilities and offer a broader range of courses at the training centre, which is one of only two in the world and the only such training centre outside the US.
The centre opened back in August 2020, with the State Government contributed A$2.7 million through the Collie Futures Fund towards the project.
WesTrac CEO, Jarvas Croome (pictured speaking in the centre), said one of the key focuses of the expanded offering would be providing apprenticeship pathways, and other resources and construction industry skills development opportunities, to local students.
“Since launching in 2020, the WesTrac Technology Training Centre has delivered autonomous operations training courses to more than 450 people,” Croome said.
“To date, that has predominantly involved people working in the resources industry and needing to upskill, however we have also run a pilot program in partnership with the not-for-profit Motivation Foundation, which supports young people to earn qualifications and secure full-time employment.”
The Motivation Foundation aims to educate and develop life and employability skills for school students enrolled in Year 11, 12 or equivalents from diverse backgrounds.
Croome said the expansion of the WesTrac Technology Training Centre would provide enhanced facilities and training opportunities to allow the partnership to expand and continue into the future.
Announcing the funding in Collie, WA Premier, Mark McGowan, said it continued to assist Collie to build on its rich history as an industrial hub, while setting up the town for the long-term by diversifying the economy and creating jobs.
“The WesTrac Technology Training Centre is part of Collie’s future, putting the south west town on the map as a national centre of excellence for autonomous equipment training – with ongoing benefits to Western Australia industry and the community,” he said.
Among the new facilities, WesTrac plans to establish virtual reality training, along with theory rooms, reception, administration and a multipurpose room. New plant and machinery will be purchased and communications infrastructure will be enhanced.
Croome said while training was not a massive revenue generator for WesTrac, it was an important part of building a long-term, sustainable future for mining and construction industries in Western Australia.
“As a key global centre for mining, it makes sense to continue growing our training capability in WA,” he said. “We are not only providing opportunities for people in the South West and around the state, but, now with COVID-related travel restrictions lifting, we’re starting to welcome trainees from interstate and overseas.
“The benefits for Collie and the wider region are immense. As well as directly employing eight people on site responsible for delivering training to up to 30 students per day, the centre utilises local service providers as much as possible including for accommodation, cleaning, catering, fuel and office supplies.
“More importantly, with hundreds of trainees coming to Collie for multi-day courses each year, there’s a considerable cash injection into the local economy.”