A state-of-the-art Skills Development Hub has been announced for Victoria University’s Sunshine Campus to tackle unemployment in Melbourne’s west while addressing a critical skills shortage.
The $35 million facility, expected to be completed around the end of 2018, will replace dated weatherboard buildings that now face Ballarat Road.
A new three-storey building will be funded by a $5 million grant from The Ian Potter Foundation, complementing $10 million in funding from the Victorian Government’s Department of Training and Skills. Victoria University will provide $20 million.
The Hub will offer future-oriented vocational training in a region where youth unemployment is above 18 per cent - significantly higher than state and national averages.
The new facility will add to the Sunshine Campus’s existing iconic trades training centre and offer:
- construction technologies
- advanced manufacturing and health technologies
- health and community services
- language, literacy and numeracy programs.
It will also house specialised teaching equipment such as robots, virtual reality goggles, computerised mannequins and simulation equipment, to help students learn through real-life scenarios.
In addition to a café, gymnasium and bookstore, the facility will also include a Learning and Wellness Centre to help tackle the high levels of chronic illness in the Brimbank region where obesity rates are more than 50 per cent, and males have the lowest life expectancy in urban Victoria.
With half the region’s population speaking a language other than English at home (representing 130 nationalities) the Hub will also offer targeted language, literacy and numeracy programs.
News of the investment follows the first successful year of the newly launched Victoria Polytechnic (VPoly), Victoria University’s TAFE division.
Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Dawkins said the announcement sends a strong signal for the continued success of VPoly and the importance of vocational education and training.
"With the support of The Ian Potter Foundation and the Victorian Government, the new Skills Development Hub will allow VPoly to respond in an even greater way to the needs of industry, the community and a diverse cohort of students with vocational and competency-based courses and degrees."
Ian Potter Foundation Chairman Charles Goode said the Foundation was pleased with its first major investment in vocational education and training, and its contribution to job creation in Melbourne’s West that meets 21st century trade and industry needs.
Professor Dawkins said the new facility highlights the continued evolution of trades training as it evolves from 'traditional' skills.
"The Sunshine Skills Hub will support the development of industry partnerships and will increase student numbers, reinvigorating the local community and industry for Melbourne’s West."