High unemployment rates in Stawell and Ararat have led to a greater push by Central Grampians Local Learning and Employment Network for higher education opportunities in the region.
Almost 6000 people are looking for full-time employment in the north-west Victorian region, latest Australian Bureau of Statistics data show. That figure had increased from 1732 people in 2014.
Central Grampians LLEN executive officer James Skene said while higher education was not the only solution, 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.”
Central Grampians LLEN moved into Ararat’s former Federation University building this year and offers a bachelor of social sciences.
“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.
“We have this great space and facility here,” he said.
“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 also wants 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.”