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Thursday, 25 June 2009
Page: 7256

Mr SYMON (4:35 PM) —I rise this evening to speak about a TAFE funding program that was announced in my electorate of Deakin last Friday, 19 June, by Minister Mark Arbib in his role as acting Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations. I was very pleased to have Minister Arbib announce that Swinburne University in Croydon will received $9.96 million for a Flexible Green Trades Complex. Swinburne University is one of 32 TAFE institutions that will share in the $200 million for training infrastructure that will keep Australia working. This investment forms part of the Training Infrastructure Investment for Tomorrow, or the TIIFT program. I am very happy to have such a great educational institution in my electorate. Swinburne is large and is attended by many local people. Many other people travel for many miles to get to the university because it has a great reputation.

Swinburne not only has a campus in Croydon; it also has another four sites in Australia and one in Malaysia. The university being in Croydon really puts a name to the town as it is well known across the eastern suburbs of Melbourne. Before telling you more about this announcement, I would like to talk about the Swinburne University of Technology—the Croydon campus in particular. Swinburne is recognised nationally and internationally as an innovative and progressive institution. There are 19,521 TAFE and 39,813 higher education students at Swinburne, with 3,300 of these students at the Croydon campus. Swinburne TAFE’s portfolio of training courses is growing, with a particular emphasis on sustainability; in fact, sustainability is one of the unifying philosophies across the university with staff and students working together to integrate sustainability practices into all of their teaching.

The Croydon campus of Swinburne also has a particularly strong focus on youth. There is an emphasis on trades, with apprenticeships and preapprenticeship programs being provided in building and construction, and painting and decorating. Swinburne’s role with the youth of the area is important, given that the local area is challenged by high numbers of disengaged youth and youth unemployment. Hence it gives me particular pleasure to tell the House about the Croydon Green Trades project announced last Friday and how the community of Deakin and the outer eastern region of Melbourne will benefit from investment in the Teaching and Learning Capital Fund for Vocational Education and Training.

Swinburne has predicted that 26,000 new jobs will be created in five industries, with the development of new green jobs underpinned by the trades. With this in mind, tradespeople need to develop skills and knowledge about sustainable practices and learn about new and emerging technologies. Of course, this institution is not just for apprentices currently undergoing training but also for the many tradespeople who might have completed their apprenticeship years ago or decades ago. Trades evolve—new technologies come about, new work practices come up and new products are invented—and it is important that people who have already been trained in particular trades pick up new skills as they go through their working lives.

The Croydon Green Trades Complex includes new programs in green plumbing, and this campus of Swinburne is the perfect site when you consider that almost half of Victoria’s plumbers are located in Melbourne’s east and south-east. Importantly, training providers in the area are at capacity and all have waiting lists for their programs for apprentices. Sometimes those waiting lists extend to six months or more. The skills shortage in the trades is something I have often spoken about. Unless we have capacity at the training level the shortage will continue. In the fields of building, construction and plumbing, the Flexible Green Trades Complex will lead initiatives for green training through its large, flexible work spaces as well as its small project breakout rooms for student use. With existing plumbing programs filled to capacity, the green plumbing training tower will fill a gap and will also service the needs of our emergency services trainers.

Having a look around the campus on 19 June was most informative. There were lots of apprentices working there, learning the practical side as well as the theory of their trades in a very well-set-out area. The fact that there are plans to have that area extended to cover more and newer technologies is even better. In keeping with Swinburne’s environmental ideals, the complex has been designed to include a number of sustainable initiatives in the construction and ongoing usage of the building, including an underground water tank and an in-slab reticulation system included in the classrooms. I would like to commend Swinburne University of Technology for their leadership in creating green skills for the 21st century. This integrated approach to green practices, technology and trades responds to industry and student needs in the eastern region of Melbourne and beyond.