Komatsu has opened a new A$6 million ($4.1 million) state-of-the art training academy in Western Australia as part of the OEM’s plans to address a critical skills shortage in the state.
The opening of the training academy in the Perth suburb of Welshpool coincides with Komatsu doubling its annual investment in training to A$12 million dollars, it says.
Construction of the recently completed Perth training academy includes advanced workshop training rooms, a 30 t crane heavy lifting bay, and labs dedicated to hydraulics and electronics.
Regional General Manager, Glenn Swift, says the purpose-built facility is Komatsu’s response to a critical skills shortage, particularly in Western Australia’s resource sector.
“Skills and labour shortages are a significant challenge for the resource sector,” he said. “We need to invest in training and upskilling programs to ensure that our workforce is equipped with the necessary skills to meet the demand for these industries.”
Komatsu’s training centre offers both apprentice and post-trade technical training in mining and construction industry jobs with a focus on diesel mechanics, auto electricians and fabricators.
Company research shows upon completion of Komatsu’s apprenticeship program, Komatsu’s customer-facing employees will be approximately one year ahead of an equivalent conventionally-trained apprentice who has completed an apprenticeship outside of this system, it says.
This, the company says, is down to its training methods incorporating VR/AR and its highly proficient educators. Komatsu also recognises the importance of equipping apprentices with important life skills, such as mental health awareness, public speaking, road safety and fatigue management, drug and alcohol awareness, and a variety of business skillsets.
In addition, Komatsu maintains an 84% retention rate, far exceeding industry standards by up to 30%, it says.
Komatsu General Manager Training and Capability, Janine Gurney, says apprentices gain experience in next-generation technology including telemetry and driverless trucks as well as learning essential life skills.
“It’s about fitting into the broader company culture where we focus on safety, community, career progression and access to the latest technologies,” she said. “Our aim is that the apprenticeship is the first step in a lifelong career with us.”
Gurney said the company aims to train 600 apprentices by 2025.
Women filled nearly half of the 2023 intake of 75 places, and the 2024 intake will open in July.
Gurney said Komatsu is a pioneer of autonomous haulage systems, and a leader in smart construction via integrated technology as it builds a workforce of the future.
She concluded: “We want to help ordinary operators become fantastic operators so that when they are cutting or digging trenches, for example, their precision is to the exact millimetre and a lot of our current technology does this for them.”