Premier Peter Malinauskas officially announced the location of the new Mount Gambier technical college during the Country Cabinet visit last week.
The college will be co-located with the TAFE campus and the University of South Australia Mount Gambier campus and will cater for Year 10 and 12 students.
The Mount Gambier college is one of five that will be built in South Australia and programs will be fully integrated with vocational education and training (VET), apprenticeships and traineeships, and SACE.
The facility is part of the new government’s investment of over $130m in the Limestone Coast, with $35m allocated for the college construction and an additional $4m to cover operational expenses.
“There is incredible potential for economic growth in Mount Gambier and the Limestone Coast more broadly, which is why we are investing more than $130m to support the region,” Premier Malinauskas said.
“We have to be willing to contemplate supporting those students who want to make an active decision to acquire a trade or a skill while also completing their SACE.
“Which is why we have made a very substantial $200m dollar commitment to build five brand-new technical colleges throughout the state of South Australia, including right here in Mount Gambier.”
Premier Malinauskas said the decision to build the technical college at the TAFE instead of the originally proposed Mount Gambier High School was due to local advocacy from the industry and Mount Gambier MP Troy Bell.
Minister for Education Blair Boyer said the establishment of a technical college in the Limestone Coast region provided the opportunity to further enhance the learning pathway offerings for key cohorts, including students at risk of disengaging.
“It’s very important that not only do we produce a pipeline of really skilled, job-ready trainees and apprentices, and that’s what we can do here in the technical college,” he said.
“But it’s also really important to make sure we do everything we can to encourage them to get all the way through to the end of their Year 12 and get their SACE so they have got that for future years and future job opportunities.”
Minister Boyer said courses at the college would be tailored to meet specific skills needs in the community.
OneFortyOne Training Manager Danielle Burford said the technical college was “fantastic” news for them as an industry and as a region.
“We’re such a long distance from major capital cities and in the past, especially with our saw technicians, we have been sending them to New South Wales TAFE as that was the best option we had,” she said.
“There’s also only one other college in Australia that does saw technician training, so this will just be fantastic to grow and develop that as an industry and as a trade.”
Ms Burford said sawmills were growing into an industry controlled by lasers, robotics and very large machinery, so they needed to increase the skills and knowledge of people.
The college will be available to students throughout the Limestone Coast and Minister Boyer said they were looking into transport for those who did not live in Mount Gambier.