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ESI Generation IRC Chair Profile

“Learning and personal growth is something that I am passionate about.

“I think we all need to grow and learn throughout our lives, and so it is important that workplaces, and the national VET system, make this learning real, achievable and rewarding. That is what I come to work for.” – Richard Harvey.

In this month’s newsletter we continue a series of profiles featuring the chairs of each of the 11 Industry Reference Committees (IRCs) we support.

This month we profile the Chair of the ESI Generation IRC, Richard Harvey

How did you come to work in your industry?

Rather by accident really – I got in touch with someone I had worked with previously who had just joined the wind industry in a HR role, and he asked if I was interested in coming to work for him managing a training function for the construction and operation of wind farms. I had been a school teacher and had some Learning and Development Management roles, but this was a big jump into heavy industry. After five years working specifically in wind generation, I moved to AGL where I have been since, working across most of the current large scale generation technologies, concentrating on the technical skills required to operate and maintain these pieces of important infrastructure. It is a great industry to work in, full of people who love what they do and take their responsibility to provide reliable energy for the community very seriously, while also offering work on cutting edge technologies as the industry looks to a future of firm renewable generation.

What is your current role?

My current role in AGL is the Competency and Development Manager for Group Operations. I have responsibility for building our technical capabilities across AGL’s generation and gas fleet, which now has a footprint in 5 states. This includes the large coal fired power stations, including the Loy Yang mine, gas fired power stations of differing technologies, the solar, wind and hydro renewable generation assets, along with gas production and storage assets. My team and I help build the systems, processes and tools to develop and maintain the technical and safety competencies these assets need to safely and flexibly operate and maintain these assets. It is a great role that offers variety and the opportunity to see people learn and grow personally while providing such a vital service to the community.

What is the best part of your job?

The best part of the role is really in working with teams and individuals to develop their skills and confidence and seeing people go from being intimidated by the size or complexity of a piece of plant or a process, to first competency, then mastery, and the personal growth that comes with this. It is great to be able to ensure that this process can happen for all staff at our assets, that they can build skills and knowledge in a safe, professional and encouraging environment. It also gives me great please to see qualifications awarded to formally recognise the hard work of learning, and to then support someone who has mastered a skill on the journey towards becoming a mentor or expert that is sought out by other members of the team.

Why are you an advocate for Vocational Education and Training?

I am an advocate for VET because I see every day in my job how important skills, knowledge, and lifelong learning are to individuals and businesses. Trade and engineering skills are the lifeblood of a power station, and a strong vocational education and training system enables us to trust the skills of those who come to work for us, and effectively build and maintain the skills we need onsite. The ESI – Generation Sector Training Package is vital, particularly for bench-marking internally delivered training and skills development. It provides vital agreed standards of competency for particularly our higher risk and complexity tasks, which is very important for keeping everybody safe and getting the best out of our plant and assets.

What has your organisation done to develop the skills of your workforce?

AGL invests heavily in the growth of its employees, particularly in the technical skills to operate and maintain the assets. In my time at AGL I have seen a number of initiatives that have helped to build skills and help employees grow. My team has in one initiative, assisted assets to put structure and rigour in place for the learning journey of our maintenance technicians, who now have clear pathways to establishing the range of skills the organisation needs, and the ability to gain qualifications to recognise their effort. Almost 100 maintenance technicians have gained post trade qualifications through this process over the past four years, significantly lifting the skills base of our workforce and providing recognition for those employees. Very recently, with the construction of the Barker Inlet Power Station, AGL has run a comprehensive training program to provide the current workforce of the nearby Torrens Island Power Station to build on their existing skills in maintenance and operations to work at the new power station. This is a great example of the business seeking to build the skills of existing staff to operate and maintain a new generation technology.

What are you passionate about? What makes you smile? 

Learning and personal growth is something that I am passionate about. I think we all need to grow and learn throughout our lives, and so it is important that workplaces, and the national VET system, make this learning real, achievable and rewarding. That is what I come to work for.

What I go home for of course, is even more important. My wife and I have two teenage boys, who I think are growing into wonderful men, who will carry on the work to try and make the world a better place. Being with them certainly makes me smile.