Development targets apprentices

AN innovative Latrobe City Council driven project is a step closer to supporting apprentices, after council earmarked a site for potential development.

Following an announcement in April that about 30 Apprenticeships Group Australia apprentices would be unable to complete their qualification, Latrobe City Council began talks with stakeholders about providing a hands-on training opportunities to those affected.

Based on the success from council’s 2006 Our Future, Our Place sustainable housing project in Morwell and Churchill, council voted in favour of retaining a large portion of land in Moe to carry out a similar project.

Latrobe City chief executive Paul Buckley said the project aimed to address the recent apprentice retrenchment, increase affordable housing and develop partnerships between government departments.

Meetings between stakeholders, including prospective partnerships, will begin following council’s decision last week to retain Kingsford Street Reserve, Moe to enable construction of multiple independent dwellings.

Mr Buckley said a focus of the project was to provide accredited training to suspended AGA apprentices and on the job experience, during the construction phase.

“We want to create an opportunity for those young people to complete their apprenticeships through this part program,” Mr Buckley said.

“We want to try and make the model work to get those people back into work and enable them to complete their apprenticeship.”

Following the completion of the original housing project, about 45 per cent of participants gained full time employment and 65 per cent of the participants completed Certificate II in General Construction.

The Our Future, Our Place project was developed in partnership with Try Youth and Community Services, the Department of Human Services Victoria, the Department for Victorian Communities and the Federal Government’s Department of Transport and Regional Services.

Council has about $200,000 in reserved funds generated from the last program, which Mr Buckley said council were proposing to apply to the Moe project.

“The model is about just generating enough income to cover the costs of construction,” he said.

“In the long term we would hope to provide some affordable sustainable housing in Moe, and if we can make the model work again we would look at other opportunities across the city to replicate the model.”

Latrobe City Mayor Ed Vermeulen said an investigation into prospective partnerships and funding sources had commenced.

“Council is really looking forward to this project to do something practical, on behalf of these people, to get some positive outcomes for them and the community,” Cr Vermeulen said.

The report with the results of the investigation into the Kingsford Reserve, Moe affordable and sustainable housing project is expected to be presented to council in six weeks.