It's business as usual at Victoria University's Melton Campus where carpentry courses continue to train local students in a trade recognised as a national skills priority.
Fifteen pre-apprentice carpenters from the Melton area are now studying a 16-week full-time program to gain their Certificate III in carpentry.
Participants range from 15-year-old early school leavers to 28-year-old Sash Razmovski from Taylor's Lakes. He left a job as a well-paid logistics specialist to follow a dream to run his own building company.
"I should have done this years ago. The sky is the limit in this trade because the world will always need buildings and houses," he said.
Since mid-2009, the Federal Government's $14 billion stimulus spending program has been credited with a surge of building jobs across Australia.
VU's 16-week pre-apprenticeship offers a fast-track to a carpentry job as it knocks six months off a normal four-year apprenticeship.
Carpentry teacher Ross Firth said most builders who take apprentices now expect them to have already done a pre-apprenticeship.
"Our students start by learning how to use basic hand tools and work up from there," he said. "Employers don't want to have to explain those basics."
The VU program is three-quarters hands-on training. The training culminates in building an industry-standard one-bedroom transportable home which is sold at cost to the public as a granny flat or holiday home. Members of the public can contact the school to discuss purchasing one of the homes.
Students do all the carpentry work on the home, which includes a cathedral ceiling, timber floor, bathroom, kitchen and lounge room.
"From the beginning of the course, we treat this like a professional workplace and have high expectations of the students' work and behaviour," Ross said.
There are no pre-requisites for VU's carpentry pre-apprenticeship. It costs about $200 for students on Health Care Cards and about $900 for those without. The next intake is July 19. To register an expression of interest, call 9919 7530.
Ann Marie Angebrandt, Media Officer
Marketing and Communications Department, Victoria University
Ph: +61 3 9919 5487 or mobile: 0403 556 001