It’s with great pleasure that I introduce the first of our regular newsletters from the University’s new Government Liaison Unit (GLU). The stories on our internet news pages that follow this welcome are all items in this November edition of the newsletter.
GLU has been set up to assist us in communicating with local, state and federal governments, and more broadly with the public service, industry and the wider community in our region.
This newsletter will be a bi-monthly initiative to keep you informed of developments throughout the University.
In this issue the theme is the expansion of our services and facilities being driven by the unparalleled population growth we are experiencing in Melbourne’s west. This growth will drive the refinement of our courses and includes some exciting plans for VU’s future in tertiary education and research.
As the second largest employer and the only university in the region, VU plays a pivotal role in the development of the west as a knowledge, logistics and distribution economy. The population boom fed by our fast-growing birth rate and record levels of immigration guarantees an expanding pool of students seeking to gain or upgrade their qualifications.
However, there are also challenges. Together with government and industry we must plan carefully to ensure we match education and training opportunities with the skill shortages in the region and the wider communities we serve – teachers, skilled trades and health workers immediately come to mind. These very sectors are growing rapidly in the rest of the Australian economy, but not nearly so fast in the West, so there is still much work to be done.
We are working with industry and government on appropriate solutions. Our collaborators include the Victorian Department of Innovation, Industry and Regional Development, the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development and the Department of Planning and Community Development, the Western Bulldogs, Western Health, industry groups such as Linfox and other tertiary providers including the University of Melbourne and Kangan Batman TAFE.
As a multi-sector university providing courses from certificate II through to PhD level, we can offer students at all levels opportunities to take advantage of the new industries being created by an emerging sustainable economy. New jobs for the changing West are being created alongside the freight and high-tech manufacturing base that thrives here because of our proximity to the Port of Melbourne, the airports and the transport corridors linking the two with the rest of the city.
These are exciting times for all of us. If we work together we will be well placed to take full advantage of the opportunities the next few decades will bring.
Professor Elizabeth Harman