Francois Pieters is in a powerful career position since completing his engineering degree.

Since graduating from the University of WA with a Bachelor of Science in 2016, he has been learning the ropes via a graduate program administered by CCI that will see him work in companies such as Horizon Power, Synergy, Western Power and Alinta Energy.

Pieters is one of the first engineering graduates to take part in the program, designed to meet the needs of a rapidly changing industry and soon fill a gap as a large group of engineers hit retirement age.

He spent six months with Synergy at the Kwinana power station working on maintenance before moving to Horizon’s Bentley office.

“Working for Synergy at the power station was quite an amazing experience because I got to see the generators and worked on them alongside electricians and mechanics,” he says. “I saw different types of plant, like gas, coal and a diesel system in Bremer Bay.”

“The work at Horizon is different because it’s not about producing power and is more about long-term planning and computer simulations.”

Pieters has just started the second year of a three-year rotation: “It’s an excellent opportunity because it will turn you into a complete professional with all these different experiences.

“That’s the strength of the program – it puts you in different environments and you build different skills. By the end of the three years, I’ll be a capable engineer and a complete professional.”

Other graduates have been based at the Muja Power Station near Collie, where they have worked on a plant that produces hydrogen for the station’s generators.

This year, Synergy will host three graduates, Horizon two, and Western Power four while Alinta will take on one.

General Manager Power System Services Laurie Curro says Horizon Power is proud to be offering graduates practical experience on a range of projects, including the connection of an innovative 150kW renewable energy system in Broome.

“The program adds value to the profession by supporting graduate development to drive innovation and engineering as a profession to grow with industry,” Curro says.

CCI also runs a 12-week vacation program to help students gain the required 12-week work experience needed to graduate as an engineer. This experience also works as a stepping stone to the graduate program.

The program’s manager Ann Brinkamp said it was borne out of conversations within the industry and driven by the engineers, general managers, human resources and CEOs.

Brinkamp says that by working with Engineers Australia and the universities, the programs ensure students and graduates are attaining the required skills and experience.    

“The industry is changing rapidly and requires fresh talent that understands the different areas and challenges of the sector. When key employers in the industry decided to collaborate, they opened the doors for an innovative way to invest in their future workforce,” Brinkamp says.

►For information about the program, or to register your interest in being a host company, contact Ann Brinkamp on (08) 9365 7669 or email Ann.Brinkamp@cciwa.com