Those in Victoria looking for high quality training in pest management should look no further than Melbourne Polytechnic. 

Melbourne Polytechnic (previously NMIT) prides itself on helping businesses to prepare their pest technicians to be competent, safe and profitable team players. As one of the oldest training providers, they know that a well-rounded technician needs a little bit more than the usual scope of national competency training.

In a competitive business climate, customer skills and a broad awareness are nearly as important as the safe use of pesticides. After all, competently killing or stopping the pests matters little if the customer isn’t happy. These days a company’s technicians have to present as competent and caring and be able to respond to customer concerns, particularly where those concerns arise from ‘internet confusion’.

Technicians are deliberately not schooled in how to run their own business and the content delivery drives home the message of the need for experience and ongoing learning to become an independent worker, truly useful to a business. Heavy emphasis is placed on the key areas of teamwork, efficiency, customer satisfaction, company policy and the building of business reputation.

Training in practical skills must be followed with on-the-job experience for competency to develop. The aim is for technicians to understand how and why each pesticide or management action works, or doesn’t work and to be aware enough to recognise gaps in their own knowledge, allowing them to know when and how to seek extra information. Melbourne Polytechnic keep abreast of the latest developments in science, molecules, methods, regulations, codes and standards.

Melbourne Polytechnic will keep meeting the needs of businesses, by being flexible and responsive. Some of their teachers arrive as academic high-achievers, but most have come through one or more prior career paths, giving them a broad set of skills and experiences to provide quality all round training. The teachers adapt on the fly to each technician’s individual learning style, to maximise performance. Failure is rare.

While the main offering is the fully featured Certificate III course over two years, with the traditional Tuesday night first-year classes at Fairfield (Melbourne) a mainstay, there is increasing uptake of their flexible offerings.

These were developed to meet country businesses’ special needs, with training delivered through a combination of online training, book learning and short three day blocks on site in Melbourne. However, this flexibility in course delivery is becoming increasingly popular with city-based companies. The combination of city and country based students also improves the overall class experience by exposing students to wide-ranging discussions of pest management situations.

First year and second year units for distance education have beginning and mid-year start periods, but can be provided at other times when need demands. The first year stream consists of the pest control licensing units (5, 6 & 18) plus some other units to ensure early performance. The second year includes the timber pest units (8 & 10), along with the remaining core units. The timing of the on-site campus blocks are widely spaced so that learning outcomes are maximised, with the opportunity to revisit and build on earlier concepts.

Completion of a stream can be achieved in as little as eight weeks but most will take three to four months and everybody has the opportunity to complete in November. Having technicians doing a lot of their course work flexibly over the quieter winter months helps business efficiency.

Some businesses need a quick licensing turnaround, so a certificate of attainment is offered in just the pest control licensing units (5, 6 & 18) and also in the timber pest units (8 & 10), primarily for those needing insurance cover but also a favourite of inspectors looking to up-skill. Fumigation training is also offered at least once a year.

As a full-service TAFE, students have access to the library, learning support services and even wider skills training through Lynda.com.

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