Walking into an underground coal mine would be a daunting task for most recruits.
But now there is a new facility for Wollongong miners to get skills and experience in a simulated environment first.
MyneSight Training, a subsidiary of the underground mining contractor Mastermyne Group, has invested $400,000 to build a facility in Cringila that simulates a real mine environment.
Construction of the facility started in July last year and it was officially opened on Tuesday.
Mastermyne managing director Tony Caruso said the facility would primarily be used to train "cleanskins" or people with no experience on mining work and safety protocols.
"Participants will complete between two to four weeks of training in a simulated underground mine environment," he said.
"Recruits will learn the equipment used, terminology and importantly safety protocols.
"The training will accelerate their initial introduction into the mining industry as well as the hazards in a controlled site."
Employees from Mastermyne, other contractors and mining companies, such as South32 and Peabody, could use the facility to train staff.
Mr Caruso said members of the public also could do the courses at the facility if they wanted to get a job in the industry.
"Participants will learn to put roof bolts on, install service lanes and put up standing conveyor structures," he said. "They will learn the basic entry level skills.
"When employees start at a mine, they have to absorb a lot of information including terminology, equipment, safety protocols as well as trying to be productive at work," he said.
"The training program breaks that up so recruits can learn and be confident when they walk into a worksite."
The inexperienced employee program will use a mix of classroom sessions and the simulator. Other courses include generic induction programs, refresher programs and supervisor upskilling.
Mr Caruso said the facility also provided training for "high-risk" work licences for companies that required their employees to have specialised skills such working at heights or sling and lifts.
Up to 2000 students are expected to pass through the facility in the next 12 months while six to eight staff will be hired to run it.
Mastermyne Group mine contractors have worked in the Wollongong area for the past 17 years and Mr Caruso said the city was a central location to service the industry's training needs.
"We assessed the growth and demand of the coal mining industry and Wollongong was the best place to build the facility," he said.