High unemployment rates in Stawell and Ararat have led to a greater push by Central Grampians Local Learning and Employment Network (Central Grampians LLEN) for higher education opportunities in the region.
Up to 5,984 people are looking for full-time employment in the north west Victorian region, latest Australian Bureau of Statistics data showed.
The figure had increased from 1,732 people in 2014.
Central Grampians LLEN executive officer James Skene said while higher education training could not be the only solution towards the soaring unemployment rate, it would help the region move forward.
“The youth unemployment rate is a lot higher in this area than it should be,” he said.
“This is because the opportunities are fewer, so higher education could be part of a bigger solution here.”
Central Grampians LLEN moved into the Ararat’s old Federation University building at the beginning of the year.
The service offered a bachelor of social sciences, which also started this year.
“So far this has been very positive,” Mr Skene said.
“But there are two major issues which we will have to work through in order to bolster our higher education plight in the region.
“The cost of delivering programs with low enrollment numbers and getting qualified lecturers and instructors are two problems we need to work through.”
The service’s debut course had eight enrolled students.
Mr Skene said Central Grampians LLEN was working with Melbourne Polytechnic and Federation University Australia to offer more courses and train more instructors.
“We have this great space and facility here,” he said.
“Currently we have administration staff, an ex-teacher and we are training a professor on site.
“We have contacted businesses in the region and they have identified business courses would also be very beneficial to students in the area.”
Central Grampians LLEN was also hoping to offer courses in engineering.
“The issue in this area I keep hearing is that people cannot go to university because there is nowhere to go,” Mr Skene said.
“If they do want to go to university they would have to move to Ballarat, Geelong, Bendigo or Melbourne.
“This involves being away from family and friends and can be very difficult for some.”
Mr Skene said the region’s youth had gone long enough without tertiary opportunities in the area.
“There is no higher education facility between Horsham and Ballarat,” he said.
“Our service offers higher education midway, between these two important areas.”
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