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Alex David Skillbuild Training Scholarship

Grid Tie Solar training course

Grid Tie Solar training course trainee profile: Alex David Skillbuild Training Scholarship (More on the Scholarship program here…)

From the Solomon Islands. Currently living in Fiji (travelling between the 2 countries)

Tell us about yourself

I have run an electrical business called Powerit since 2006 dealing with Electrical, Solar and Refrigeration services. I am also doing a Bachelor (honours) in Electrical Engineering. Because as running a business I feel that I should be kept up to date on all things that are happening in the industry. A business in the Solomon Islands and Fiji must be an allrounder as nothing is specialised. So to do this I want to be on top of everything.

How did you get the scholarship from Skillbuild?

I went to the Skilbuild website and emailed them to ask if they could help me with a tender that I was thinking of going for in the Solomon Islands. I communicated with Bill Gammon and he was very helpful. Unfortunately, we didn’t submit the tender as we were too busy with other work. Bill then asked me to come to Australia and do his Grid tie training course as a part of their scholarship program. I thought if I can get a qualification I will be able to get more Solar work. I had done a lot of Solar work, but I cannot sign off on the final job. There is no regulation here, so it gets a bit dangerous. So, I just wanted to learn how to do the right thing.

What is the Solar industry like in the Solomon Islands and Fiji?

There is only grid tie in the cities, a lot of the island is remote and off-grid. There is no regulation, so anyone can get involved. I think this is dangerous as electricity is dangerous. In the Solomon Islands, we just put as many panels as we can fit on the site. So, most of the time we just buy the panels and install. The process is the “more panels the more power”. So, I thought if I can do some training and get an accreditation I can do the right thing.

The Skillbuild Training course.

I really enjoyed the 4 days. I met with other tradespeople, they were like my mates and I learnt from them as well. It is different here In Australia, but we are all using the same power that is generated from the sun. The course taught me that the concept of “more panels the more power” is not true. I learnt how to calculate the energy in different ways. This knowledge makes me be more efficient. You must look at the system by site angles and temperature so often less is more. So, my customers will now be spending less and getting a better system, and that is what I want. It is just good practice. For example, a 5kW system should be worked out by the right number of panels and the right inverter. It makes perfect sense.

The Trainers

They were excellent. Firstly, we had a trainer who was from the Energy sector. He runs his own business and was so knowledgeable and approachable. Then we had an Engineer Diggaj Regmi (more on him here). He taught us how to design a system. He was very good, and he explained everything very clearly and had great calculations. Then there was Bill. He has a lot of character, he’s like a father figure. He has done so much and was always positive in his conversation. The technology is so far advanced in Australia compared to where I come from so I felt out of it. He lifted my moral and made me believe I can do it.

Future plans?

I will apply for the accreditation with the Clean Energy Council of Australia as soon as I get my certificate from Skillbuild. Then I will use this experience and accreditation back in the Solomon Islands. We will be working on a “Solar fridges” project throughout the islands. I will use the training I received from the course to instruct my staff to do things the right way.

What did you get from the course?

I not only got a great understanding of the calculations needed for a good system I have learnt how to do things the right way. Back home this will put me ahead of everyone else. At home, there are some Australian companies who come over to do systems, but they leave after the work is done. Now I will be one of the only local companies that have a full Australian recognised accreditation. I will lead the industry in professionalism. People will trust that we will do things efficiently, correctly and safely.

Alex will be returning to Australia to complete a Stand Alone Power Systems Course with Skillbuild.

From Nepal to Australia - The story of Diggaj Regmi - Part 1

From Nepal to Australia – The story of Diggaj Regmi

Part 1

We decided to do an interview with one of our trainers only to find out what a remarkable story it is. Here Diggaj Regmi gives us an insight into the journey that he has taken to get here. It’s a story about a little boy who grew up in a remote village in Nepal, his first encounter with electricity and a fascination that will take him all over the world.

Trainer profile: Diggaj Regmi

Position: System design and training assistant (Design Hydro and Wind)

Where did you grow up?

I came from a remote village in Nepal called Laxmipur which is in the western part of the country.

What was it like living in Laxmipur, Nepal?

We lived on a self-reliant small plot of land. This was a little house on a piece of small land where we grew vegetables. We were self-sustaining, everything we grew we ate or sold. When I was a kid at school my day would consist of getting up and working on the plot, walking to school then coming home again to finish the work. I would then have to study and go to bed ready to do it all next morning. They were long days.

Tell me about your first encounter with electricity.

We grew up with no electricity. When I was about 9 years old they installed some lighting in our house. The teacher at school talked about how electricity worked. Fascinated by the power and the light that we now had I wanted to know more about how it all worked. I rigged an extra wire, so I could have a switch next to the bed. It worked, I remember turning it off and on. This is when I decided to learn more about physics and engineering.

How did it make you feel?

Happy, excited and curious wanting to know how it worked and how to create it. Wanting to work in electricity and become more involved. In fact, I was the first kid in my school to do engineering. The other kids from my school all wanted to do more business-related subjects such as accounting.

Tell us about your education.

After graduating from our junior school years (1 to 10), I got the opportunity to do further education. I chose to do electrical engineering. There were no universities nearby, so I had to travel away from my home to Kathmandu. I went to a University College which is like a technical school in Australia. I completed a Diploma in Electrical Engineering.  Here I learnt more about Electricity, Micro Hydro and the generation of electricity. How it works including the generation and distribution of power. After three years I finished the course and although I don’t like to admit it I was named the dux of the class, getting the highest marks of the school. That felt good.

The National Level Enterprise Challenge Competition

It was during this time the school entered a competition called the National Level Enterprise Challenge Competition. It was organized by the British Council UK as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week, called “Skills for Employability” for South and Central Asia. In this competition, we had to solve a local problem. There were 5 of us on the team and our problem that we wanted to solve was dealing with local communities being affected by industrial pollution.

 What did you do?

When I was doing my studies in Kathmandu I used to walk past an area of local housing communities that were close to an industrial area. I noticed that the factories were polluting the air and water that goes into that community. They were churning out smoke from the chimneys and spilling out toxic water into the water supply. We figured if we can do something about that it would make the lives of the people better.

What was your solution?

We used a Reed Bed Plant (found everywhere in Nepal) to purify industrial wastes in the form of solid, liquid and gas. The plant has different chambers and separate purification processes for sewage, wastewater and smoke. Each form of pollutant goes through its respective process to finally be let out through the Reed Bed plant which acts as a natural purifier. The aim was to use the industrial smoke, a dangerous air pollutant, for heating and drying purposes without the application of any other energy source. Same is the case with sewage and other solvent waste, which might, in the end, be turned into reusable resources applying minimum resources.

Why did you do this?

I love my country. It is a place where we always will try to help each other out. Walking past these communities every day made me feel sad. It was making their lives hard and I just wanted to do something about it.

How did you go in the competition?

We won! There were participants from India, Pakistan and many other countries in Asia. This was such a great thing. As we were treated like heroes in Nepal, even our government gave us recognition.

From Nepal to Australia – The story of Diggaj Regmi

What did the competition give you?

Well as competition winners we were flown to England to present our results and share our knowledge. I didn’t even have a passport. The English government helped me with that. I had never been in an aeroplane before and here I was being flown business class, it was amazing. We were even reported in the news by BBC, UK newspapers and Nepal’s National daily news.

Find out more about Diggaj’s journey from In part 2 – Nepal to England

Learning more about Energy - The Story of Diggaj Regmi - Part 2

From Nepal to Australia – The story of Diggaj Regmi

Part 2

In part 1 the first chapter of the story, we heard about Diggaj’s first encounter with Electricity. This fascination takes him from his humble childhood in a remote village in Nepal to Kathmandu where he wins a University Sustainability project and is flown to England to present to the world. More on this…

England. What was that like?

I felt such happiness. I had never been out of Nepal before and London was such a big city. We went to the Shakespeare Globe Theatre to present our project. There were many other people presenting to all kinds of educational people, even the Education Department of the UK Government. There were so many ideas and when it came to ours I was a bit nervous. But because I was presenting on behalf of my country I shook it off and after a while, I started to enjoy it. The Nepalese Government had also given us some personal development training, so I used what I had learnt to get me through my first presentation. Which is why I think I really enjoy getting up in front of people now.

Did the audience like your ideas?

They did. There were discussions and we got to talk to other people in educational areas about what we had done.

How did that make you feel?

I felt that people were listening to what I had to say. It spurred me on to do more. I felt that Nepal had given me so much with my family and education that I wanted to give something back to my community. I felt a responsibility to give something back to my country.

Explain that.

It’s like I can never forget that feeling I had when I was a kid growing up in my village. Seeing the first light in our house and listening to the teacher talking about how energy was made. I felt that we were lucky enough to have power. It was a gift. I want all the people in Nepal to have this gift of power. There are villages that only have kerosene lighting in their kitchens and this has horrible effects on their lives. The fumes will hurt their eyes as they try to cook a meal. I remember having the chance to read at night in my bedroom, without a kerosene light, and how great that was. I felt that if I could give that opportunity to all the people in Nepal then I will achieve something. But first I must learn more.

What did you do after London?

I loved London and I saw so much opportunity there. Back home lighting my house was a big thing but in London, there was so much more. I said to myself let’s use this award to get further education. We stayed for a week in London and then went back to Nepal. There was no way my family could pay for a degree, so I started to think about how I could sell myself into a UK University. I applied to 3 Universities that had renewable and electrical power as a study option.  I got a placement in a “pathway” or foundation degree in College of North West London and with a full scholarship at the University of Glyndwr in Wales.

How was University in the UK?

At first, it was hard, so I studied at least 15 hours a day. I wanted to push myself, so I could get a distinction pass. Because English was a second language to me I had to try harder just so I could match the local students. I even used to study on the train.

How did you support yourself?

I took on a part-time job with an electrical (Ryness Electrical) in their technical sales area. I even got promoted to an assistant manager. I would work part-time during the semester and during the break, I would work full time. They were great to me and I loved it. They were so kind. When I had to take the time off to study for exams the staff would pull together and donate some money to support me when not working. There would be a card with many pounds in it saying, “good luck for your exams, and we’ll see you when you get back”. I felt part of a great retailer team.

Did you graduate?

I did, and I received a Bachelor of Engineering in Renewable Energy and Sustainable Technology.

What did you do next?

I started to work full time with Ryness. I also worked on a 150kW Solar Farm as a Trainee Project Engineer (Install and Design). That got me “on the roof” working on real renewable energy projects. I learnt a lot. I wanted to work in Hydro Electricity, so I could eventually go back to Nepal and give the remote locations some power. But I still needed to learn more before I could do it successfully.

In the final chapter, Diggaj lands in Australia where his adventure continues…

Renewable Energy Training with Skillbuild - The story of Diggaj Regmi - Part 3

off to Australia

In part 2, we went through Diggaj’s time in England and University education in Renewable Energy.  More on this here…

Now his passion has led him to Australia so he can make his mark in the land that is rich with Renewable Energy. Now with his heart still strongly placed in Nepal and his desire to do something for the people back home.

Why the move to Australia?

I started to look for work in Australia as I felt that I wanted to increase my knowledge in renewable energy. Some countries embrace things more than others and I felt that Australia really embraced it. I felt I had spent enough time in England and it was getting too cold for me. So, I started to apply for a Visa.

How did applying for an Australian Visa go?

It went well. At that time, they were accepting graduate visa entries. There were 3 things that the Australian Government were looking for. 1. Listed Universities (Glyndwr University was one of them) 2. Engineering degrees and 3. Demand for skills. Lucky for me I had all of them, so I got a Visa.

What did you do when you arrived in Australia?

I landed in Sydney and lived with a friend in a suburb called Hornsby. I then thought I should gain some local accreditation, so I decided to do a Grid Connect course with Skillbuild Training. That course was fantastic as I learnt so much about the local industry and by the end of the course I was qualified with the CEC. I then worked with a local Solar Company where I designed systems. I did this for 2 years.

You did another course with Skillbuild Training.

Yes, I did their Off-Grid SPS design and install course. I then moved to the Sunshine Coast in Queensland working for Giant Power where I designed and installed both on-Grid and off-grid systems.

How did you come to work with Skillbuild?

I really enjoyed the training with Skillbuild as they seemed to be a great source of knowledge and they were always willing to help. They had a position going for Electrical Engineer with Renewable Energy background. I noticed the job come up on seek and thought that it would be a great place to learn and work.

Tell me about what happened with Skillbuild.

This was the amazing thing that happened. I met with the owner of Skillbuild, Bill Gammon and we had a great talk. He talked about the job and what he likes to do in his spare time. He said to me that he will often go to Nepal and that he has been delivering energy systems to remote areas. And he does this out of his own money. I couldn’t believe it, this was my dream. This was the reason that I had been doing all this study and learning for. Now here I was sitting in front of an Australian person who has the same dream that I have. I thought this is the chemistry of life that pulls people together. When people have the same ambitions, they will often find themselves in the same place.

What do you do at Skillbuild?

I assist in the practical part of the training sessions. The students can ask me questions as they are working on the inverter or wiring something. I will also give them help after the class when they are in the real world designing or installing a system. Sometimes I will even go on site to help them with the job. Skillbuild has a unique way of doing their courses. No one gets left behind, and we will always follow up to see how the past students are going. This is a great sense of satisfaction as it is something I like to do, help people.

Have you gone back to Nepal?

Yes, I have. Glad to say that I have gone back to work on an off-grid system with Skillbuild to some of the remote areas. These systems aren’t large, but they are designed to give load shedding of 10 – 12 hours of power to compensate peak times which is often shut off. We build the off-grid system so people can still have power.

In fact, Skillbuild is sending me back to my home village to install an energy system. Skillbuild is supplying the equipment so they can power their life. Also, next Christmas I will be going back to a remote village to replace the kerosene lighting with a renewable energy system.

What are your plans for the future?

Well, I am only 30 years old, so I have a lot to give. I want to keep going back to Nepal to replace the lighting systems, so the kids can study, and the mother can keep them fed without hurting their eyes. I haven’t stopped studying yet. I still study 5 hours a day because there is still so much for me to learn.

And Skillbuild?

I love working with Skillbuild they are like a family to me. They are always positive and happy they really look after me. They will always give me the opportunities. It is a dream job.

Building on what you know

Building on what you know

Building on what you know

Sometimes you know things but don’t have the qualification or are just a little bit rusty. That was the situation with Khoa Tan Doan a Solar installer who runs a company in Yagoona NSW. He had completed many Solar Storage installations in the past but always needed someone to sign off on the completion. Recently he decided to gain control over this by doing the Off-grid and Hybrid solar storage course at Skillbuild.

Learning the Storage side of Solar

His solar business was doing well but he loved adding the extra with the storage component. So, he started to look for a course that could give him the skills to learn about what to do as well as what new technology that was available. This course was perfect for a man who runs a medium size business dealing with mainly commercial Solar projects.

Training that gives him confidence

By doing this course it gave him the confidence to take on more work and better projects. “It was the hands-on practice that I got during the course that helped me to understand what I needed to do,” Doan said. “I can now look at a project and know that I will be able to provide what the customer needs. With my qualification I can now sign off on my own work, which is great,” he added.

Giving more than just training by being on site

There is a saying that goes, “when the student is ready the teacher arrives” and that was Doan’s case. Although he had been doing this for years he wasn’t sure on who would be the best teacher. Doan has had a great experience with Skillbuild. They have even helped him with some of the larger projects with that extra after course guidance that they offer. In fact, when I called and spoke to Doan he said he was on site with Diggaj Regmi one of the trainers of the Skillbuild off-grid courses. Diggaj was helping Doan with the finer more technical elements of his current project. On-site doing the work with him. Now that’s a dedicated trainer.

Keeping up with the solar industry

Keeping up with the solar industry

Keeping up with the solar industry?

Due to the changing nature of the renewable industry Justin Kearnes, an electrician and solar installer in the Central Coast of NSW decided to advance himself by learning the new technologies. He felt that with emerging storage market there is an opportunity to gain a larger stake in the solar market. His next choice was to find the right course.

The Skillbuild course off-grid and hybrid solar storage.

The first thing that drew his attention to the Skillbuild course was the fact that it ran for 4 days with 2 of those days on the weekend. We all know that when running your own business time is so important. Take 2 days away and it has a massive effect, take 4 days and you have lost the whole week. That time is money to the small business owner. It was this flexibility that Skillbuild says we’ll meet you halfway to minimise the impact on your business.

The training was immediately usable.

Have you ever completed some training and thought to yourself I can’t use this in my day to day activity? Well unlike other training the Skillbuild course had an immediate effect on Justin’s business. What he learnt in those 4 days he used straight away. Since completing that course, he has done over 15 battery installations. It has given him more opportunities to develop new business within the solar market. Because the training had a mixture of theory and hands-on practice, it gave him the confidence to promote his business into the off-grid and hybrid solar storage markets. And it is working. His business is now considered one of the good Solar Storage installers in the Central Coast area.

Confidence to take on new business.

Most people who have quality standards to do the right thing will not promote themselves until they are sure that they can get the job done. In this case, Justin had that confidence. “The course has given me the confidence that I know what I am doing,” Justin said, “It was the mixture of theory of hands on that did this. The technology was in the room and we actually wired a system from the ground up with instruction from the trainers. That was so good”.

Before taking on the course Justin could have fallen by the wayside as the solar industry moved into new areas. With this training, he has increased his business into a new area of Solar and Storage. Which just shows it is not always just learning something it is the way it is taught that makes the difference.

Self Employed Electrician Needed Solar Training

Self Employed Electrician Needed Solar Training

Self Employed Electrician Needed Solar Training

Robert is a self-employed electrical contractor who works mainly in the Cootamundra area of NSW. Most of his work is done through larger contractors and he comes in at their request to do the electrical component of the project. It’s interesting work and he comes across a variety of situations. Lately, he has been running into a lot of Solar within the work he had been given.

Solar Industry Knowledge

He was aware of Solar power, being an electrician, but he really hadn’t the full knowledge of the industry. He knew that it was time to get that knowledge. One his major contractor companies said to him that they would like to put him on a Solar accreditation with Skillbuild Training. The training is carried out over 4 days (with some pre-course work required). It includes a ‘real’ install as part of the training, not just look at systems.

Learning how to design a Solar System

What he got out of the course was more than just learning how to design and wire a solar system. There is a large industry with regulations and ways to do things. “The course blew my mind,” Robert said. “There is so much more than just putting panels on a roof. There is a range of things I didn’t know, even a legal side which is so important”. That’s is why you should always be taught by the people who know every element of what is needed. Going with the wrong course you may never use what you learn. More importantly, you may do something that could get your business into trouble.

CEC Accredited

Robert can now work on any project that has a Solar element to it. He is now Clean Energy Council accredited. He still needs to do certain things, such as his first case study and ongoing projects and continuous development training. But the Solar Grid Connect Design and Install Course that Skillbuild has will give Robert every opportunity to work within this industry with confidence and ability. In fact, Robert now feels that this has given his contracting possibilities a boost as more projects will require a solar element.

What is next for Robert?

“The next step is doing the off-grid and Hybrid course,” he said, “I will be doing my first case study next week and want to get the solar side perfect first then we move on to other things. I am so glad I did this course as it has given me new skills and a new industry”.

Skillbuild Training conducts their first New Zealand Solar training

New Zealand Solar training

Skillbuild Training conducts their first New Zealand solar training.

The Solar industry in New Zealand is just developing. To get the industry up and running the Rexel/Ideal Group NZ enlisted Skillbuild to give a Solar training course for its customers. This comprehensive 4-day course was held in Auckland in November 2017. The aim was to give the electricians a full Clean Energy Council Accreditation. Thus, arming them with the right skills and knowledge to give the industry a boost.

“We have a fledgling renewable industry here in New Zealand and we need to take it a step up” said John Bevan – Energy Efficiency Manager for Rexel Group New Zealand. “The way to change that is to offer training. Rexel Group spoke to Skillbuild, who are an accredited training organisation, to skill up our electricians in New Zealand. The aim was to bring their knowledge up to level that they will be competent and will do a good service to their customers.”

Giving the right knowledge.

This will give the students the edge as they will be at the forefront of technology and installations. “It is a comprehensive course with half theory and half hands on.” John said. “The good thing about Skillbuild is that the trainers themselves are electricians, they have experience in the industry. The advantage of using people from Australia is that that industry has been going for a long time and that experience is valuable for New Zealand.” John added.

Skillbuild Training are happy to help the New Zealand Solar market grow and look forward to more courses in the future.

Here is the video.

Skillbuild Scholarship Program

Skillbuild Scholarship Program

Skillbuild are awarding five Scholarships each year to overseas applicants who are in a position to encourage the uptake of Renewable Energy Technologies, and therefore decrease carbon emissions in their home countries. The Scholarships pay for all costs associated with attending our Renewable Energy Courses in Australia.

The first successful applicant,

Alex David, runs an Electrical Contracting business in the Solomon Islands. He will be attending our Grid Connect Design and Install Course in Brisbane in January. An important feature of this program is the mentoring that we will provide in the ‘home’ country; we will be visiting to assist, where required, in the work that our Graduates are performing. More on Alex here…

Feel free to contact us for the selection criteria for these Scholarships, but an essential requirement is that there is no local training in the area of Renewable Energy.

Email – training@skillbuild.edu.au

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