ESI Transmission, Distribution & Rail IRC Chair Profile

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 Transmission, Distribution & Rail IRC, Peter Woods

How did you come to work in your industry?

When leaving school, I wanted to get an apprenticeship as an Electrician. I applied at a number of companies and was lucky enough to be offered more than one position. After some thought, I accepted an offer from Sydney Trains. Thirty-seven years later, I can say I have enjoyed every part of the roles I have had, as well as the people I’ve worked with.

From completing the apprenticeship, working as a tradesman and then becoming a work group leader I always gained satisfaction from knowing we were making sure the public could rely on the train system.

The thing I enjoyed most was becoming a trainer and assessor in 2003. This opened an avenue to represent Sydney Trains in the development of national competency units and qualifications that meet Sydney Trains’ needs. I’ve been involved in the national training system ever since. That’s now 16 years!

What is your current role?

I am Principal Assessor within the Electrical Distribution Unit, which makes sure Sydney Trains retains its supply authority licence. My role is to manage and accredit internal and external staff to work on our network. This involves setting the criteria for what is required to obtain accreditation and developing the annual Electrical Network Rules exam. I’m also involved in Electrical training courses that are developed or reviewed to ensure they meet our rules and regulations, and national competency standards.

What is the best part of your job?

The people you meet. I enjoy answering questions from Electrical staff, liaising with the training centre and keeping other parts of the business up to date on the rules to ensure that all people work safely around the electrical network.

Why are you an advocate for Vocational Education and Training?

The VET system sets the minimum requirements for people to work in the industry safely. This is made possible because industry helps develop national competencies and qualifications. These standards enable workers to have their knowledge and skills training recognised and move within the industry across Australia without having to start over again.

For example, when Sydney Trains became involved in the national training system there was no nationally endorsed Certificate III in Rail Traction. The IRC set out to develop this qualification by working with the rail industry in other states so that what we came up with suited everyone and set the minimum standard required to work on Rail Traction systems.

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

Sydney Trains is committed to ensuring staff are keeping up with new technology. We have developed training courses so people can, for example, obtain the Cert III in Rail Traction or do the Cert IV in Power Systems Substations. I am really pleased to see how this training has changed from the old days, when courses were purely based on theory, to today when the emphasis is on being competent to apply knowledge and skills in the workplace.

What are you passionate about? What makes you smile? 

I’m passionate about safety, especially around the electrical network. If something goes wrong, you won’t get a second chance. This is why we have open conversations and encourage staff to ask questions if they need any sort of clarification.

Away from work, what matters most is family and being able to spend time together with my wife and three kids. Nothing makes you smile more than seeing your kids grow and achieve the goals they set themselves.

I also enjoy being part of a local Rugby League club. I’ve been a member for 33 years, starting as a player, then moving onto the committee and now being on the executive for, I realise, the last 20 years. How time flies!