ARARAT - Students and a range of industries across the region are set to benefit from two trade training centres at Ararat College and Stawell Secondary College which will begin construction in the coming weeks.
Ararat College principal Geoff Sawyer was on hand last Friday as contracts for the developments were officially signed by the successful tender applicants.
Caflisch Architects is the firm which has designed the two projects, with W.P Contractors chosen to construct the Commercial Cooking Trade Training Centre in Ararat, while Raysett Construction will build the Automotive Trade Centre in Stawell.
"The paper work has been done and the builder is now preparing to erect a fence around the site and to bring in equipment which should happen in the next two weeks and the action will take place from there," Mr Sawyer said.
"It seems to have taken forever to get to this stage and it probably has, there has been a lot of work that went into the funding applications and then the tender process was quite lengthy.
"I suspect the building process from start to finish will be a lot quicker than it has taken to get to this point."
The Stawell project is due for completion in late March-early April next year, while Ararat's centre should be in use by the beginning of May.
W.P Contractors is the same building company which oversaw the refurbishment of Ararat College's Science and Language Centre and Mr Sawyer said he was excited to see this project come to fruition.
"We're really looking forward to working with W.P Contractors again," he said.
"They did a great job on our Science and Language Centre and actually finished that building ahead of schedule, which is quite rare.
"These centres will service young people in the Ararat, Stawell and surrounding areas. From Lake Bolac to Beaufort VET courses will be available for students and they will be huge assets for both towns."
The completion of the two trade training centres is expected to provide a boost to a number of industries which have suffered following the demise of technical schools.
Speaking to the Ararat Advertiser following the success of employee Tim Taylor at the recent WorldSkills International competition, Ararat Automotive Services owner Terry Peatt revealed his concerns for the future of the car industry and its ability to attract young apprentices.
"There is not many you find that want to have a crack at it anymore. Something needs to be done in a hurry because it is a dying trade," he said.
"The Government really needs to open their eyes and do something about it. They can't get mechanics and it is just getting worse and worse."
Mr Peatt said apprentice wages may be one of the main reasons young people are looking to other industries for employment.
While the closure of many tech schools may have restricted the amount of students pursuing trades, Mr Sawyer believes the new trade training centres will open up a range of opportunities to all pupils.
"We offer a number of avenues into those industries, but it may just be a sign of the times," he said.
"We used to run VET automotive at Ararat College, but because of numbers Stawell has become the specialists in that area.
"With the inclusion of paint and panelling in the new trade training centre it means almost all aspects of the vehicle industry is now covered, which is a very good thing.
"Students also have the option of undertaking school-based apprenticeships, which sees them complete three days of schooling and then they are in the workforce one day a week.
"The big thing I guess now is encouraging the students to look into those opportunities. We certainly don't discourage going down that path and as I said we provide the opportunities and it is up to the students to decide what suits them best.
"If there is a shortage in that particular field then perhaps another option could be for some of those employers to come along and discuss with the students the type of skills and opportunities that industry has to offer.