RJV’s Sam Pfeffer among first to receive new civil construction trade certificates

8 November, 2022

The first trade certificates under the WA government’s new Civil Construction Pilot Program have been issued to final year apprentices with RJV plant operator Sam Pfeffer among this first cohort.

Sam completed his Plant Operations (Level 3) apprenticeship (previously called the RII30815 Certificate III in Civil Construction Plant Operations under the former traineeship program) to receive his nationally recognised trade certificate.

RJV CEO Tim Ryan said: “The pilot program has been a real positive for the industry.”

“For apprentices like Sam to now have a national trade certificate at the end of their training makes the achievement even more meaningful. It’s a great start to what we hope will be a long and rewarding career in civil construction.”

Sam’s journey

Sam says he always wanted to work outdoors so when a labour opportunity came up with RJV in 2019 he took it. A few months later, he was offered the opportunity to register into the Certificate III in Civil Construction Plant Operations Traineeship with RJV’s training partner Civil Train, a nationally recognised training organisation and division of the Civil Construction Federation WA.

After learning about the option to transfer his traineeship to an apprenticeship through the pilot program, Sam was happy to make the transition.

“Being told it would be classified as a trade with a trade certificate sounded good to me,” Sam said.

“It was a very smooth process.”

Through the plant operations apprenticeship Sam has obtained his accreditation to operate a range of heavy machinery and equipment including haul trucks, skid steers, wheeled front end loaders, rollers and water carts.

Sam is now an all-rounder in plant operation and is currently operating various machinery at one of RJV’s mining projects in the Pilbara. In another couple of years, he’s hoping to progress to a supervisor role.

About the pilot program

Earlier this year the state government announced its new four year Civil Construction Pilot Program, which aims to increase the number and capability of new workers entering the civil construction industry. The program is designed to help meet increasing industry demand for skilled workers with the McGowan Government committing $13 billion to civil infrastructure projects over the next four years.

As part of the program, specific civil construction qualifications in Western Australia have changed from a traineeship to an apprenticeship, extending the duration of training from 24 months to 36 months with the aim of improving skills and employment opportunities.

The program is covering the wage gap created by the change through its dedicated Construction Training Fund.  

Throughout the four-year pilot program, it is anticipated that about 250 junior apprentice wages will be subsidised and more than 1,200 new apprentices are expected to commence in the civil construction sector.

The qualifications being transitioned are:

  • RII30919 Certificate III in Civil Construction (seven streams)
  • RII30815 Certificate III in Civil Construction Plant Operations
  • RII31615 Certificate III in Trenchless Technology

The new Apprenticeships available are:

  • Civil Construction (Level 3)
  • Bituminous Surfacing (Level 3)
  • Bridge Construction and Maintenance (Level 3)
  • Pipe Laying (Level 3)
  • Road Construction and Maintenance (Level 3)
  • Road Marking (Level 3)
  • Tunnel Construction (Level 3)
  • Plant Operations (Level 3)
  • Trenchless Technology (Level 3)

RJV offers apprenticeships in the following:

  • Civil Construction (Level 3)
  • Pipe Laying (Level 3)
  • Plant Operations (Level 3)

RJV offers apprenticeships to employees on a merit-based system and training is provided on-the-job and via RJV’s training partner Civil Train.

Photo credit: Alice Graham, CCF

Left to right: David Cunningham, Industry Training Advisor – Construction Training Fund; Tim Ryan, CEO – RJV; Sam Pfeffer, Civil Plant Operator – RJV; Sue Ellery – Minister for Education and Training; Andy Graham, CEO – Civil Contractors Federation WA


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