Save Our Skills: Why This Is Important

Once upon a time, our community thought it was very important to save our skills. Not only save them but grow new skills as well. Our heritage buildings and machines from the past record the detail produced by the skilled workers of The Industrial Revolution.

Skills in Building

As the gold rush brought many people to Australia, the buildings constructed had to be fit for purpose and also pleasing to look at. There was a rapid expansion of railway transportation to move people and goods. With the wealth now available to the government, new, impressive railway stations were built on the Victorian goldfields. Attention to detail was important from the design process, through the building process, to the finished product.

Mathematics skills are used when drafting the plan of a building. This is to calculate how much material will be needed to build walls to the required width, thickness and height. The strength and spacing for supporting beams for floor and roof is also calculated for the materials to be used.

Laying slate tiles requires special skills, as does making and fitting curved metal panels onto domes.

Carpenters and joiners have skills in handling timber. They can identify the grain and type of timber and know the best way to use it for strength and decoration.

Designing and constructing decorative lead light window panes is another specialist skill displayed in many older buildings.

Complex decorative shapes can be made in cast iron by a skilled tradesman.

Skills in Engineering

Cast iron was used to make implements and machines for specific purposes, like water hydrants. A skilled  plumber installed the hydrant that a skilled metal worker had made.  Platform scales had to be accurate when weighing goods for transport, as charges were calculated by weight.

Then the railway tracks had to be made and laid down, with skilled surveyors assessing where they would go.

Skilled engineers designed and built the locomotives, wagons and carriages which would operate on the tracks.

Save Our Skills

There are still some community organizations which are working to save our skills by passing them on to a younger generation. These tend to be run by volunteers giving their time and expertise to anyone who is willing to learn. Yet some of the skills being shared have been modified to serve a different purpose, one which is more relevant to industry today. Automation is the process of programming machines to do the manual labor humans used to do. A thorough understanding of the skills involved is needed to do this successfully.