Victoria’s South West received a twin skills boost today when Gayle Tierney Upper House Member for Western Victoria Region, officially opened the South West Skills Store and turned the first sod to commence construction of Stage 3 of South West Institute of TAFE’s major redevelopment.
The South West Skills Store – one of nine Skills Stores being established by the Brumby Government in regional Victoria and one of 13 statewide – is managed by leading regional TAFE institute the South West Institute of TAFE.
Speaking in Warrnambool today, Ms Tierney said the South West Skills Store’s headquarters would be located at South West Institute of TAFE’s Warrnambool campus and that a mobile service would operate across the region.
“The South West Skills Store has a great advantage in being managed by a TAFE institute with a considerable local presence and extensive experience,” Ms Tierney said.
“The South West Institute of TAFE has forged a fine reputation providing high quality training for vital local industries – including the meat, timber and alternative energy industries – at its campuses in Warrnambool, Portland, Hamilton and Glenormiston.
“And the institute has strong, established links with local labour market providers, such as St Laurence Employment Services, Western District Employment Access and Your Employment Solutions.”
Also in Warrnambool, Ms Tierney turned the first sod to begin construction for South West Institute of TAFE’s landmark $12.1 million building, which has received
$11.35 million in Brumby Government funding.
The new project is scheduled for completion in 2009 and follows Stage 1 and Stage 2 of the Institute’s major $25.5 million redevelopment.
Ms Tierney said Stage 3 would include the construction of new information technology classrooms, general purpose classrooms, a student services and enrolment centre and facilities housing the Institute’s administration services.
“This new three-level building will provide a new main entrance to the campus and link the buildings completed under stages one and two of the redevelopment,” she said.
The South West Skills Store is part of a four-year, $23 million Victorian Government initiative to encourage Victorians to undertake further education and training, recognise existing skills and help employers meet emerging skill needs.
The Minister for Skills and Workforce Participation, Jacinta Allan, said the idea behind the Skills Stores initiative was to take the message of retraining – and especially the importance of recognising prior learning – directly to the people.
“People can literally walk in off the street into a Skills Store and get free expert advice about their current skills, future skill development options and training they need to turn their skills into qualifications.”
“Skills Store consultants can then provide a personal referral to a TAFE institution or other registered training organisation to have those skills formally assessed.
“That way, people’s existing skills and experience may be recognised by a qualification or a statement of attainment without having to repeat training unnecessarily.
“This can dramatically reduce the time it will take to increase qualification levels and start a new career.
“It will reduce the cost of gaining a new qualification, free up places in TAFE and registered training organisations and make our training system even more efficient.”
The Skills Stores will also help businesses identify training needs and solutions for their workforce and assist school career advisers.
The 13 Victorian Skills Stores are part of the Brumby Government’s strategy to increase the skills of the Victorian workforce and create a more sophisticated, high-skilled economy.
Each Skills Store will be funded to award clients with grants of $250 to assist with the cost of formal recognition of skills at a TAFE or other registered training organisation.
“Like the rest of Australia, Victoria’s economy faces two major skill challenges – the continuing shift towards higher-value-added production, requiring higher levels of skills, and the ageing of the population,” Ms Allan said.
“By encouraging older Victorians to upgrade their skills and re-enter the workforce, Skill Stores will help address both these challenges.
Since coming to office in 1999, the Brumby Government has invested an additional $1.1 billion in skills and training.