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Automation careers are jobs of the future

A career in an automated industry promises to be challenging, in-demand and well-paid and will see you working at the forefront of rapidly evolving technologies.

Considerable change is already underway, with many industries transitioning towards automation. In Western Australia, this especially applies to areas such as agriculture, mining, oil and gas and manufacturing.

These exciting changes are already effecting employment prospects - and the workforce of tomorrow. 

South Metropolitan TAFE is proud be delivering Australia's first accredited qualifications in automation.  This is the result of a successful collaboration with Rio Tinto, WA Government, the resources industry, its stakeholders and the wider community.

Read Education and Training Minister Sue Ellery's media statement here or watch a video here.


What is automation? Oil and Gas Process Control Room.jpg

Automation is about creating and applying technologies that control or monitor production and delivery. It’s not about pressing buttons, but rather, designing and developing the buttons. It's about designing, programming, configuring and testing Human-Machine Interface (HMI) and industrial networks. Ultimately it’s about working with the “robots” – from concept to prototype. Some examples of automation in the workplace include:

  • Rio Tinto's world-first fully autonomous iron ore railway system and autonomous trucks.  Find out more here
  • Remote operations centres which command company operations from a single location
  • Autonomous drilling, drones and advanced sensors
  • Gathering, validating and reporting 'big data' to drive operational decision making


What skills are required? 

A solid understanding of maths and physics, creative thinking, detail focused and an interest in developing programs that control external devices and networks.

New Automation Courses

In partnership with Rio Tinto, SM TAFE has developed two new qualifications, which are the first accredited automation qualifications in Australia. These courses will position WA workers to take full advantage of the many exciting opportunities automation is expected to deliver to industry and the economy.  In Semester 2, 2020 the following qualifications will be available:

52845WA Certificate II in Autonomous Workplace Operations will be delivered as a public program in Semester 2, 2020, with limited places available.  There will be ongoing delivery of this program in 2021 and beyond.  This new qualification marks a shift in WA industry towards innovative technologies, requiring new roles and specialist skills.  Applications opened on 6 May 2020. Apply now. 

This program is also being delivered as a VET Delivered to Secondary Schools Pilot with three metropolitan schools and one north regional school; as well as a pilot program with Rio Tinto existing workers.

52844WA Course in Working Effectively in an Automated Workplace offers a skill set that trade-qualified workers and apprentices can use to improve or upgrade their skills in automation to match future workforce and industry needs. View the course and express your interest. 

Apprentices and trainees displaced during the COVID-19 pandemic are eligible for the Rio Tinto scholarship fund for this course.  Limited places are available.  View the  media statement here.  The Thornlie Jobs and Skills Centre is accepting applications for the scholarship fund.  To enquire or apply, email


What other courses are available? 


For School Leavers and Mature Age Entrants 

MEM30505 Certificate III in Engineering - Technical

This is an entry-level qualification which exposes students to the design fundamentals required by Industry 4.0 and advanced manufacturing. Graduates of this course may then continue into a second semester of MEM50212 Diploma of Engineering – Technical and complete this diploma in six months full time (rather than the usual 12 months).

UEE50511 Diploma of Electronics and Communications Engineering 

UEE62111 Advanced Diploma of Engineering Technology – Electrical 

MEM50212 Diploma of Engineering – Technical 

MEM60112 Advanced Diploma of Engineering

When you receive an Advanced Diploma of Engineering (MEM60112) from South Metropolitan TAFE you’ll be able to work as an engineering associate around the world. Engineers Australia recognises the Advanced Diploma of Engineering and allows graduates to work as Engineering Associates in countries that are signatories to the Dublin Accord including the UK, USA, Canada, Ireland, South Korea, New Zealand and South Africa. Click here for more information.

For tradespeople seeking to upskill or organisations seeking enhancement of electrical capabilities

The skillsets listed below are part of the Diploma of Engineering - Technical (MEM50212). They have been designed to assist industry build capability in emerging technologies and consist of:

The skill sets listed below are part of the UEE62111 Advanced Diploma of Engineering Technology – Electrical. They have been designed to assist industry build capability in emerging electrical technologies.

Where will I study? 

Munster Campus 

A world-class, state-of-the-art specialist training facility aligned with the needs of the mining, oil and gas, engineering and processing industries is located in Munster, south of Perth's metropolitan area.  The $12.4 million Munster Campus Stage 2 was officially opened in November 2017.  It has has purpose built Applied Engineering facilities in  3D printing, CNC-milling, laser, precision milling and vinyl cutting.  It also includes a purpose built Mechatronics Room that deals with circuit design and simulation software for multiple technologies such as:

  • Pneumatics
  • Hydraulics
  • PLC controls
  • HMI control panels
  • SCADA and DCS
  • Electro technical motor controls
  • Digital electronics
Page last updated May 19, 2020