After a decade-long campaign led by local politicians, councillors and the business sector, the state government has vowed to build a new $22.6 million state-of-the-art TAFE campus in the heart of Armadale.
Earlier this week it was announced that the ageing facilities on Commerce Avenue would be replaced by a new consolidated campus on Church Avenue, which will significantly increase capacity and generate more than 120 jobs.
It is understood the upgrade will see courses with a focus on manufacturing, technology, automation, freight and logistics made available at the campus, which currently offers qualifications in business, com- munity services, childcare and education support.
The government confirmed there would also be a strong focus on Vocational Education and Training delivered to secondary students in a bid to address Armadale’s significant youth unemployment rate, which is currently sitting at about 15 per cent.
Armstrong Parkin Architects has already been appointed to design the new facility, with construction anticipated to begin as early as December 2021.
WA Premier Mark McGowan told Examiner Newspapers that the facility would lead to greater learning opportunities for local residents, while breathing new life into the city’s CBD.
WA Education Minister Sue Ellery echoed the Premier’s sentiments and said the new courses would help residents acquire the skills necessary to work in the city’s growing industries.
“The TAFE here has been really limited in what it’s been able to offer because of the size of the facility here,” she said.
“We know that youth unemployment in and around Armadale is a really serious issue and local member Tony Buti has been advocating for years for us to do this.
“In addition to the courses on offer at the moment, the new campus will have cutting-edge, state-of-the-art learning areas.
“We’re also looking at offering courses in logistics and warehousing and we know Armadale would be a good place to do that, given the freight arrangements – we know that’s where we’re going to need more skills.”
After lobbying for the development for more than a decade, the announcement had Member for Armadale Tony Buti grinning from ear to ear.
Dr Buti and Member for Burt Matt Keogh both agreed that the campus would create a buzz of economic activity, which would only improve the plight of the city’s business operators and rejuvenate the town centre in the post-COVID-19 recovery.
The funding allocation forms part of a $229.2 million ‘Rebuilding our TAFEs’ plan, the biggest capital works program for TAFE campuses in the state’s history, and follows the slashing of TAFE fees by up to 72 per cent on an additional 39 high priority courses.
The investment will leave a legacy of education and training for the community, according to City of Armadale Mayor Ruth Butterfield – who said there was no better time than right now to build a new educational facility.
The city and Business Armadale chair Henry Zelones have long advocated for the development of a new TAFE campus, stating that the proportion of disengaged youth highlighted a lack of access to education facilities.
Councillor Butterfield said having choice and opportunity was critical for residents who wanted to work and raise a family within the city and that the new facility would play an instrumental role in training the workforce of the future. The announcement comes just weeks after a petition was launched calling on the state government to revitalise Armadale.
The petition, spearheaded by Business News executive chairman and long-term local Elton Swarts, featured eight requests aimed at addressing the city’s escalating levels of unemployment – one of which was for the construction of a new TAFE campus.