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Since the start of the COVID pandemic, the entire HVAC&R industry has had to adapt to keep working. For those in the training sector, that has proved especially difficult.

Robert Parsonson is General Manager of Superior Training Centre (STC), based in Sydney. He says conditions in 2021 were nothing if not challenging.

“Trade courses normally entail a high degree of ‘hands on’,” says Parsonson. “Not being able to hold the practical training classes for nearly four months created a massive backlog. We also found that apprentices and trade students in general do not engage well with online training. And many apprentices were stood down during this period, creating additional issues with their progression and the administration of records.”

Looking ahead for this year, Parsonson says that there is some cause for optimism, but things won’t turn around overnight.

“The construction industry in general is still slow,” he says, “and the economy is reliant on further government spending.

“But coming out of the pandemic there will be a rebound and increasing need for skilled labour. The increasing demand for RAC skills will be there. The difficulty will be convincing young Australians to take up the many training offers available.”

STC itself has ambitious plans for the year ahead. The organisation is opening a new, larger campus in Ingleburn in Western Sydney, with extended workshop spaces for practical training. STC is also forming more relationships with RAC businesses to deliver training to upskill their technicians in subjects such as flammable refrigerant handling, installation, and CO2 systems.

“Despite the pandemic,” says Parsonson, “STC has grown and is looking forward to further growth in Australia and offshore.”

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