REGION - Vocational Education Training students from across the region will reap the rewards when Ararat and Stawell's multi-million dollar trade training centres are completed in coming months.
A specialised paint and panel section is part of a new automotive trade training centre built at Stawell Secondary College expected to be opened in May, while a restaurant and commercial kitchen will be part of a new state-of-the-art commercial cooking trade training centre at Ararat College to be completed in July.
Ararat College Principal Geoff Sawyer said the new facilities are an innovative addition to both schools and will bring to fruition a concept first canvassed four years ago.
"These new facilities will benefit students and local businesses and encourage and foster a strong skills base within the local community," he said.
"Their availability will mark a significant milestone in access to high quality education for students in towns across our region."
The Ararat facility will boast the ability to act as a state of the art classroom by day and a community facility open to the public for functions and entertaining at night.
"It is fundamentally a training facility, but it also doubles as a community facility which we don't actually have a lot of here in Ararat," Mr Sawyer said.
"That public availability might be for functions or theme events with the facility offering extensive outside dining in what is a prime location."
The multi-million dollar centre will be used for students completing Certificates in Hospitality and Catering. The program will be available to students from Ararat, Stawell and Lake Bolac.
The restaurant and hospitality centre is fast taking shape at the front of the school near its Barkly Street entrance and main driveway.
Business Manager Sandra Jelowyi was pivotal in the planning and design phase of the process and continues to oversee construction of the facility she envisaged.
"The vision we had was for a hospitality restaurant and a commercial kitchen to equip the students with everything they need if they were to be working in that environment," she said.
"The kitchen even has monitors above the classroom benches which gives us the ability to do video conferencing, beneficial for remote schools.
"The classroom and dining area will be large enough to seat 100 people and the kitchen will be big enough for 18 cooking stations."
Stawell Secondary College's automotive trade training centre was constructed following the refurbishment of an existing building.
It is hoped the centre will help address a statewide skills shortage in panel beating.
"That facility will offer students the opportunity to come away with skills for spray painting and panel beating to be able to show potential employers," Mr Sawyer said.
The trade training centres have been constructed as a joint project between the Stawell Secondary School, Ararat College and Skene Street Special School.
The commercial cooking trade training centre has been constructed with federal government funding of $2.5 million, while $900,000 was allocated to Stawell's automotive trade training centre.
Caflisch Architects was the firm that designed the two projects, with W.P Contractors chosen to construct the Commercial Cooking Trade Training Centre in Ararat and Raysett Construction to build the Automotive Trade Centre in Stawell.