In an Australian-first, Federation University in Ballarat will build a wind turbine training tower, with the aim of preparing Victorian students for employment in the renewable sector.

Local company SJ Weir and Keppel Prince Engineering, based in Portland, has been awarded the construction contract, with the build expected to be completed in late 2021.

It aims to provide skills and training opportunities to local workers to meet the demands of the renewable energy sector.

Member for Buninyong, Michaela Settle, said, “We know how important the renewable energy sector is for this region and we are proud that Ballarat is leading the way with Australia’s first wind turbine training tower to further boost skills, jobs and opportunities.”

Victorian Minister for Training and Skills and Higher Education, Gayle Tierney, and Victorian Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Lily D’Ambrosio, turned the first sod at the Mount Helen campus, the gateway to wind farms across Western Victoria.

Ms D’Ambrosio said, “Our massive investment in renewable energy and our VRET auctions are creating a jobs boom for our regions.

“This training facility will help to deliver the skilled workforce we need, as more renewable energy projects come online.”

The 23m training tower will simulate the features of a working turbine with the capacity for 350 students to learn real-life skills each year.

It will allow Federation TAFE to offer internationally recognised safety training courses as well as courses to upskill tradespeople to become wind turbine technicians.

“Victorian TAFEs are world-class in terms of the unique learning environments and training opportunities offered to local students,” Ms Tierney said.

“This project will ensure Victoria remains at the forefront of the nation’s clean energy future – and that we have a domestic pipeline of skilled workers ready for the many jobs that are available.”

The training tower is part of the Asia Pacific Renewable Energy Training Centre, established by Federation University in collaboration with renewable energy companies Vestas, Acciona, GPG and Tilt Renewables.

The project has been made possible by the first Victorian Renewable Energy Target Auction, which mandated strong local content and training requirements from projects to produce the skilled workforce that the industry needs, as it rolls out and maintains renewable energy projects across Victoria.

The auction, designed to support the Victorian Government’s legislated targets for renewable energy generation of 40 per cent by 2025 and 50 per cent by 2030, will deliver 928MW of clean energy across six large-scale solar and wind farms, generate 900 jobs during construction and deliver enough energy to power almost 650,000 homes.

Since 2015, the Victorian Government has made a record $3.2 billion investment to rebuild TAFE, support universities and higher education to ensure Victorians have access to high quality education and rewarding career pathways.

The 2021/22 Victorian Budget includes a $383.8 million investment in the sector to ensure more Victorians get the training they need for in-demand jobs.

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