Case Study

A collaborative response to fulfil market demands has resulted in a strengthened relationship with industry, with upskilled workers now able to apply for their Refrigerant Handling Licence.


Victorian Automotive Chamber of Commerce (VACC).

VACC logo


Chisholm and VACC have had a long relationship spanning the last 20 years. Chisholm is only one of two metropolitan Melbourne TAFEs offering automotive studies, and the only TAFE covering the south east of Melbourne.

Together, they recognised the need in the automotive industry for more qualified air conditioning service people, as the demand for servicing was beginning to outstrip supply. The critical skills needed to provide the service required an innovative solution.

Stephen Wrathall, Manager Skills Development Centre at VACC added “Chisholm have always been proactive and willing to adapt training to our requirements.”

The challenge

The existing Certificate II in Automotive Servicing Technology AUR20520 is a pre-apprenticeship program which offers refrigerant handling as a part of the program.

However, many automotive companies already had qualified trades in their businesses, with a gap in the number of those who were able to diagnose and service heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (commonly referred to as HVAC) systems.

While the Certificate II has many advantages, as a full-time 10-month course, it was not a good fit for those businesses with an immediate demand for servicing HVAC systems.

Another challenge for businesses was that the Certificate II course was not government subsidised, meaning the only existing offering was both time and cost prohibitive.

The solution

In collaboration, VACC and Chisholm applied, and received, Workforce Skills Set Funding which is a Victorian Government funding program available to TAFEs. The funding program is targeted toward meeting industry needs for employment outcomes. The funding empowers new solutions to be designed and developed, promoting partnerships between TAFEs and Industry.

The partnership saw a new skills set being developed by Chisholm that allowed automotive businesses to train their qualified tradespeople, such as automotive electrical technicians, light vehicle mechanics, heavy commercial vehicle mechanics, and mobile plant technicians, who could then apply for their Refrigerant Handling Licence.

Chisholm Manager Automotive and Supply Chain, David Adams says, “Chisholm’s role was in designing the skillset so that it met the learning outcomes to diagnose and repair HVAC systems. The course was designed to be completed in three days during business hours.

“Another benefit to business was the investment to upskill their employees was reduced considerably. This has been a good initiative with a great outcome for industry.”

Chisholm recruited a qualified teacher with an automotive air conditioning speciality to deliver the course.

“With the Workforce Skills Set Funding, Chisholm were able to procure new state-of-the-art equipment to match the new gases coming into the HVAC systems.

“We have delivered the course at both Dandenong and Frankston but due to the popularity of the course, we decided to set up a dedicated area at our Frankston campus to provide a quality learning experience, David noted.

VACC promoted the new fit-for-purpose training program to their large member base which was integral in generating enrolments.


The partnership has resulted in meeting the enrolment targets, with the classes being fully booked, but more importantly the industry now have more skilled workers available to service HVAC systems.

David says, “VACC were supportive and very knowledgeable in the industry. They did a fantastic job promoting the course. As a result, we had a wide variety of automotive industry trades people complete the course.”

“The course is hands-on, not only performing an A/C service but the vital high-level skills of diagnostics. What made the course outstanding was the teacher who had decades of experience and was willing to share his knowledge base,” said Darren Gow-Brown, after completing the course.

“This partnership (over) delivered the results we required, and we had great participation from our members and their staff”, says Stephen.

To learn more, contact an Industry Specialist.