The Australasian Corrosion Association sent out a letter to all Training and Infrastructure Ministers across Australia (Federal and State) asking for recognition of Industrial Painters as official Trade and increased access to TAFE training in Surface Preparation and Coating Application to help our industry to protect our critical infrastructure.  

Corrosion is estimated to cost approximately $100 billion for Australia, and the appropriate preparation of the surface and the application of coatings to steel and concrete could minimise the losses.    

Initiated by the Chair of ACA’s Applicators Technical Group, Tim Billing, the letter was sent out to Australian Government representatives this week and was endorsed by 202 individuals within the industry.    

Currently, jobs such as Automotive and Decorative Painting are considered official Trade, whereas the painting of significant national infrastructure assets involving hazardous materials is not. The ACA is requesting recognition for Industrial Painters as an official Trade and an urgent review of the availability of TAFE Certificate III training throughout Australia and New Zealand.    

The course “MSM30216 Certificate III in Surface Preparation and Coating Application” is only available at TAFE NSW and currently has three highly qualified instructors. It is urgent that this training becomes available to more people, such as school leavers and adult students looking for a new vocational, and in more locations.    

The ACA New Zealand Branch is also fine-tuning this message for the New Zealand market. 


Read the letter:

Dear Minister 

Re: Industrial Painters as an Official Trade and Increased Access to TAFE Training 

The Australasian Corrosion Association is the peak body for corrosion throughout Australia and New Zealand with over 1000 members reflecting many industries that are working to protect and prevent corrosion impacting our infrastructure and other assets. 

Based on the ACA’s Cost of Corrosion Review of 2019, corrosion is estimated to cost between 3.5% – 5.2% of Gross Domestic Product based on 2023 GDP this equates to a value of approximately $100billion for Australia. These costs are incurred through the need for: 

– Corrosion Mitigation (current design, inspection or maintenance regimes) 

– Loss of Product or Service (leaking pipes, damaged products) 

– Cost of Remediation or Reconstruction, and 

– Indirect Costs (such as production shutdowns, economic impacts on society, reduced lifespan of assets and the environmental costs). 

An important part of corrosion control is the preparation of surfaces and the application of coatings to steel in particular, but also to concrete. 

Our members have indicated through surveys and via in-person forums that securing a skilled workforce to apply these coatings and protect Australia’s most valuable assets is a challenge and at the moment, not a priority. 

Did you know that you can employ a Painter & Decorator Tradesperson to apply acrylic paint in your house, or an Automative Painter to make sure your car is protected, but the people that are suspended above ravines painting rail bridges, or dealing with hazardous materials including lead removal and asbestos, or specialist solvents in sensitive environments, on Australia’s most valued large and valuable infrastructure of ‘national significance’ (energy assets, pipelines, submarines, wharves, ships, bridges, tanks, tunnels, multi-story buildings, dockyards, marinas) are not acknowledged tradespeople? 

Some of our industry’s largest contractors are dependent on skilled migration for this workforce currently, and this is a costly and unreliable workforce. Based on overwhelming advice from our members, we need additional skilled workers that are trained in Australia for Australian conditions. 

The ACA is requesting an urgent review of the availability of TAFE Certificate III training throughout Australia (and New Zealand) to offer these courses to Australian residents to meet the new and evolving Industry and Work Cover standards and requirements pertaining to: 

✓ Safety of work operation. 

✓ Standards of work being undertaken on many commercial projects of public and industry importance and significance. 

✓ Lift the knowledge and skills of people working in related work roles to a set national standard that helps companies meet their contractual obligations – more and more of which are asking that staff working in these roles must hold or attain the relevant qualification. 

To supplement TAFE courses, the ACA is offering an American approved ‘craftworker’ short course for accreditation of skilled tradespeople to gain accreditation to an American and International level. We are also exploring a ‘train the trainer’ model with our American sister society, the Association of Material Protection & Performance (AMPP) colleagues. 

As part of the training ‘ecosystem’, we are calling upon the Federal and State Government of Australia to expand the TAFE certificate training to be made available to school leavers, or adult students looking for a new vocation, in additional locations throughout Australia. 

The Australian Government has approved the following TAFE training course: 

“MSM30216 Certificate III in Surface Preparation and Coating Application” 

TAFE NSW has a dedicated Team able to support delivery of this specialised training nationally to meet the already significant and forecast increase in industry demand. TAFE WA also have capacity to support this training. 

Unfortunately, this TAFE training is not available in other jurisdictions, and there are only three highly qualified trainers of this course in Australia. Even NSW TAFE and WA TAFE are struggling to meet the expected increase in demand that we forecast. 

One major contractor, Eptec, has advised they need 200-300 skilled tradespeople in the next three years. This is due to the amount of work that is currently out to tender and is forecast due to the impacts of corrosion with the effects of changing weather patterns, international partnerships like AUKUS, new renewable energy infrastructure that needs significant corrosion prevention and mitigation, and the impacts of previous years neglect of infrastructure maintenance. 

Our Recommendations to the Australian Government are as follows: 

1.Industrial Painters are recognised as a trade in Australia. 

2.Industrial Painters are listed as a Priority Occupation in 2024 linked to traineeships. 

3.More traineeships are funded and promoted through vocational pathways. 

Our recommendations to the State Governments of Australia: 

1.That MSM30216 Certificate III in Surface Preparation and Coating Application is offered through your TAFE system. 

2.That the number of qualified trainers is increased to meet the likely demand. 

There will be variations of demand in each jurisdiction, and the ACA and our members are happy to assist in determining how to quantify this demand. Indications of where our members believe the demand is located is widespread as indicated by our survey summary attached. 

A copy of the petition signed by over 200 ACA members is attached with a report on their demographic profile. 

We look forward to further discussing this skill challenge and workforce opportunity, and how we can improve our internal capability to protect Australia’s most significant infrastructure from the effects of corrosion. 

Your sincerely 

Tim Billing – Chair, Applicators Technical Group

Maree Tetlow – CEO 


This letter is also sent to: 

The Hon Brendan O’Connor, Minister for Skills and Training of Australia 

The Hon Lance McCallum, Minister for Training and Skills Development (QLD) 

The Hon Steve Whan, Minister for Skills, TAFE and Tertiary Education (NSW) 

The Hon Chris Steel, Minister for Skills (ACT) 

The Hon Gayle Tierney, Minister for Skills and TAFE (VIC) 

The Hon Felix Ellis, Minister for Skills, Training and Workforce Growth (TAS) 

The Hon Simone McGurk, Minister for Training (WA) 

The Hon Joel Bowden, Minister for Skills Training and International Education (NT) 


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