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    FINANCIAL BACKING: From left, Longerenong College and Skillinvest chief executive Darren Webster, college general manager John Goldsmith and Training and Skills and Higher Education Minister Gayle Tierney at the college during a State Government announcement. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER

Upgrade work to start immediately at Longerenong College


A major upgrade of Longerenong College’s agribusiness centre will start as soon as this week after confirmation of a $2-million State Government finance package.

College general manager John Goldsmith said relevant parties had already signed contracts to start the transformation.

The project is scheduled to be complete by March 21 next year.

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Training and Skills and Higher Education Minister Gayle Tierney announced the funding during a visit to the college at Dooen, north of Horsham, ending more than a decade of project development and lobbying.

Of the $2-million government commitment, $1.5-million will go to transforming the agribusiness centre into a modern education hub and $500,000 will go towards establishing a new stand-alone classroom to meet growing Vocational Education and Training in Schools, VETiS, demand.

Mr Goldsmith said the college, managed by Skillinvest, had first costed the project in 2009.

“The agribusiness centre is one of the two primary teaching areas at the college and upgrading these facilities will be fantastic for the students,” he said.

“It will really modernise the classrooms and include all information-
technology infrastructure that will complement a new DATA farm. 

“All the classrooms will basically ‘talk’ to the farm. This upgrade will be part of an integration process and tap into the expanding of technology at the college.

“Classrooms are going to get a significant facelift and will provide a stimulating learning environment for our students.”

The agribusiness centre upgrades and refurbishment will involve an auditorium, computer laboratory and a student resource centre.

Mr Goldsmith said a new stand-alone VETiS classroom, near a college engineering centre, was the result of about 18 months of planning.

Meeting demand

Ms Tierney said demand for skilled workers would increase as the state’s economy responded to and recovered from the coronavirus pandemic. 

“That’s why the government is investing in sustainable skills development to support the agricultural sector,” she said.

“We know that getting a great education shouldn’t have to mean moving from regional Victoria to the city – that’s why we’re upgrading student facilities at agriculture colleges.

“We’re supporting our agriculture industry in western Victoria by growing local jobs and delivering the tools to ensure we continue to lead the country – this is the next step.”

Member for Lowan Emma Kealy, who has long advocated for State Government support for the agribusiness centre, said upgrades would give the next generation of farmers the learning environment and facilities they deserved. “I have repeatedly called on the government to fund redevelopment of the Longerenong agribusiness centre,” she said.

“In 2014 the Liberal-Nationals provided $2-million to refurbish 108 student rooms and six disabled access rooms.

“This long-awaited funding announcement will ensure the college can build on its reputation as a world-renowned provider of agricultural education. 

“Through its strong reputation in delivering first-class agricultural education excellence, Longy draws students from across Australia and even overseas, supporting world-class food and fibre production.”

The entire July 1, 2020 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!