Three new research and innovation hubs will be established at Victoria University to help drive the pandemic economic recovery boosting skills and jobs in Melbourne’s west.

Victorian Minister for Higher Education, The Honourable Gayle Tierney today announced that the hubs will receive $17.2 million from the Victorian Higher Education State Investment Fund. The fund has been established for universities that have applied research and infrastructure projects with a focus on increasing Victoria’s productivity and economy in response to the significant impact of the COVID-19 pandemic

The hubs are part of the university’s VU RISE initiative (Recover, Innovate, Sustain, Evolve) where industry and community partnerships will help deliver the skills and support needed for the long-term sustainable economic and social growth in Melbourne’s west –  one of the state’s fastest growing areas.

The initiative will see the establishment of a Jobs and Skills Hub, an Education Hub, and Stronger Communities Hub, which join the $4.9 million Sustainable Futures Innovation Hub launched earlier this year.

The innovation hubs are a collaborative network that includes researchers who will work with industry and the community to develop innovations and capabilities by identifying  skills gaps, seeking to remove barriers for people to train, re-train and upskill, better tailor university and TAFE courses to deliver work-ready skills, and facilitate opportunities.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Adam Shoemaker said that the investment from the Victorian Government allowed VU RISE a unique and exciting opportunity to strategically work with industry partners and the community to create next-generation innovation with positive results.

“Victoria University has a clear strategic direction to undertake research with impact, ensuring that outcomes benefit the communities that we serve. At the same time, partnering with industry and forming alliances that are logical and ethical will offer synergies that would not otherwise be possible,” Professor Shoemaker said.

“The innovation hubs will give Victoria University the opportunity to support the west of Melbourne collaboratively, to reboot from the pandemic and grow and thrive into the future.

“VU RISE is ambitious in its aims and its work will improve job prospects for those living in Melbourne's west, including young people making career decisions in a COVID-world,” he said.

Jobs and Skill Innovation Hub

The Jobs and Skills Innovation Hub will facilitate the development and implementation of solutions to support skills and jobs growth, as well as safe and inclusive work environments in Melbourne’s west. 

  • Jobs and Skills Needs for the West: Modelling the future skills needs of the infrastructure, digital economy, and social services and care sectors of the west of Melbourne over the next 10 years.  The hub will help deliver new cadetships, review university and TAFE course content to better align training with what employers need and connect students to employment opportunities.
  • Resilient Enterprises and Sustainable Employment in Tourism (RESET): Victoria University will work with partners and industry to deliver a roadmap for recovery in Melbourne’s west. It will identify skills gaps in the visitor economy, as well as vulnerabilities and opportunities to build resilience to future shocks.
  • Gender Equality through Employability Skills: Develop and pilot an education program for use in workplace training settings that focuses on promoting safe, inclusive, respectful and diverse workplaces for women in construction.
  • Social Value Framework: Supporting the industry supply chain in delivering social benefits for disadvantaged groups such as job and training opportunities and environmentally sustainable products and services. It will aim to improve the health and wellbeing and is an opportunity to deliver not only jobs but real, long-lasting social and environmental change.

Stronger Communities Innovation Hub

The Stronger Communities Innovation Hub is focused on improving the health, wellbeing and resilience of socially disadvantaged communities in Melbourne’s west. 

  • Innovation in Engaging Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Communities: In partnership with the Western Bulldogs Community Foundation, identify and address barriers for culturally and linguistically diverse community members to access holistic health promotion programs such as Sons and Daughters of the West.
  • Improving Health and Wellbeing in the West: Working with Western Health to develop an online platform to improve the health of patients who live with chronic pain and osteoarthritic conditions and are waiting for specialist care.
  • Community Action: Working with local Indigenous groups to design, implement and evaluate a community based program that is focused on supporting Aboriginal people to establish and grow small to medium sized business enterprises.
  • Regenerative City Living Lab: Working with award winning social enterprise STREAT to provide university students with experience and insight to become green innovators, empowered to contribute to environmental action and change.

Education Innovation Hub

The Education Innovation Hub will deliver research solutions to reduce transition barriers and increase student success across higher education and vocational education and training.

  • Micro-credentials for Students to Work in their Industry: University students to receive micro-credentials relevant to their future industry, allowing students to work in their sector, build connections and start their careers while studying.
  • New employability development programs to increase and sustain graduate employment outcomes; an industry-partnered research initiative to identify and develop the key skills that employers most value in graduates and provide a structured program of learning experiences to ensure students have the skills that industry needs. 
  • Gap Year: Working with local high school students to build the skills students need to either enter the workforce or study a post-school qualification.
  • Improving Transitions and Student Experiences:  This project supports post-graduate, online and polytechnic students to more effectively transition to and from study and achieve their career goals while continuing to reduce first year dropout rates, recognising that the first 12 months of study a course or program is the most likely period for students to abandon their studies.