New trades training centres worth almost $2 million will tackle the skills shortage in southern Illawarra suburbs.
Funding for centres at Dapto High School ($1 million) and Warilla High School ($975,000) was announced yesterday as part of the next instalment of the federal government’s six-year-old program to increase year-12 attainment and to accelerate the careers of agriculture, construction, hospitality and engineering workers.
The funding will be used to create an engineering workshop at Warilla High.
Dapto High will build a commercial kitchen – somewhere in among the demountables and 56-year-old classrooms.
Dapto principal Andrew FitzSimons was delighted.
‘‘We use ovens we bought in the 1970s and suddenly we’re hopping into the 21st century,’’ he said.
Announcing the funding outside Dapto High School yesterday, Throsby MP Stephen Jones said the investment was intended to give students a kick-start in pursuing jobs in areas of skills shortage so they would leave school ‘‘with a part qualification for a full trade qualification’’.
The Dapto facility will include a new outdoor cafe to run the school’s breakfast club and parent-teacher functions.
Mr Jones said the centre would allow the school to offer a Certificate II in hospitality, so students could graduate from year 12 having attained one-third of an apprenticeship qualification.
‘‘The purpose of the Trades Training Centres program is to ensure we are keeping young people at school who would otherwise leave,’’ he said.
‘‘If they’re going to be able to do an apprenticeship at school, their chances of getting a job are increased.’’
The centres are part of the Rudd government’s pledge, during the 2007 election campaign, to build vocational education centres for the nation’s 2065 secondary schools, at a cost of $2.5 billion over two years.
The government has since indicated that fewer centres will be built, and schools will use them as a pooled resource.
About 500 of the centres have been built or pledged, including those at Figtree High School, Edmund Rice College, Warrawong High School, Illawarra Sports High School, Lake Illawarra High School and St Joseph’s High School.
On Wednesday, Mr Rudd announced a $210-million plan to open 137 new centres nationally.
According to the government, eligible low-socio-economic secondary schools were prioritised for funding allocations.
In the Throsby electorate, Chevalier College, near Bowral, has been allocated $1.5 million to build a new carpentry shop.