Funding for jobs,infrastructure

A fund to provide training and education tailored to meet local job and skill gaps is now available in the Latrobe Valley.

A $34 million Victorian regional jobs and infrastructure fund was launched by State Regional Development Minister Jaala Pulford and Training and Skills Minister Steve Herbert at Waratah Training Restaurant, Morwell on Thursday.

Driven by industry and the recently formed Gippsland Regional Partnership – a direct line between locals and State Government – the program aims to ensure the most pertinent job markets in the region are fed by the tertiary education system.

Applications must be approved by the regional partnership before going to government for consideration.

Ms Pulford said the system was providing “local intelligence about local solutions for local problems”.

“This $34 million regional skills fund… is about taking local knowledge and information from industry and education and training providers and bridging that gap between what industry needs and what people looking for work have in the way of skills and work readiness,” she said.

Priority will be given to projects which display innovation and best contribute to job creation and retention.

Mr Herbert highlighted areas in East Gippsland where student numbers were small but demand for their chosen industry was high as an example of a worthy candidate for funding.

“It simply isn’t right that because they don’t have a large training facility or the volume to offer 20-30 students a course, that those students have to leave their communities, go to Melbourne to get the training and maybe never come back to the jobs or skill needs their communities need,” he said.

The funding will go toward the individual needs of communities, meaning not everyone will get the chance to study their preferred field locally.

Mr Herbert said the format was about pragmatism.

“We want to align the training to where the jobs are,” he said.

“There’s no point training 1000 people when there’s one job; that’s a waste of taxpayer money, a waste of effort from those people and it leads to heartbreak and disillusionment.

“Hospitality in the Latrobe Valley… restaurants are booming, there’s so many jobs there, but until we change the funding rate and put more money into TAFE, training restaurants like this (Waratah) will close.”

Federation Training chief operating officer Mark Potter said the fund allowed the education sector to explore initiatives which previously bombed due to a lack of funding and drive a think tank about future options for the area.

He said having a line to State Government through the Regional Partnerships, of which there are nine in Victoria, was a big step forward.

“I think for the first time in a long time you start to see a pathway, and I think that’s something that’s been lacking for a while,” he said.

“You’ve got an initiative and you’ve got to go shopping, whereas now I’ve got this pathway where I can engage with Regional Partnerships, work alongside industry and we’ve got this line we can work our way through to government to get some support and make it happen, which is a great outcome.”

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