A sod-turning event has marked the start of construction for RMIT University’s new Trades Innovation Centre, located on its Bundoora East campus. Designed to leverage technology, the facility aims to support a training pipeline for northern corridor population growth and infrastructure investment.
RMIT deputy vice-chancellor Vocational Education and vice-president Mish Eastman explained the importance of investment in trades education. “Victoria is undergoing a significant transformation, marked by major infrastructure investment, a shift to a clean economy, and evolving occupational requirements,” said Eastman.
“There is a need for hundreds of thousands of additional construction workers in the next five years to meet evolving industry workforce requirements and government initiatives such as the Victorian Big Build.
“In addition to meeting shortages in the workforce, the sector also needs to adopt technology innovation to improve productivity.”
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Upon completion, the Trades Innovation Centre will be home to simulations, innovative equipment and teaching practices, and programs that integrate job-ready and future-ready industry skills.
It will offer a unique opportunity for industries to utilise the facility for testing, learning, trialling and demonstrating, and access RMIT’s expertise to solve real-world problems.
By 2025 it is projected that Victoria will need more than another 4,000 electricians, 2,400 plumbers and 500 refrigeration mechanics.
The Trades Innovation Centre will enable RMIT to contribute to meeting forecasted demand over the next three to five years, in line with the Victorian Government Skills Plan and Clean Economy Workforce Skills requirements.
About the new centre
After engaging with representatives of the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation, the new centre has been given an Indigenous name: Murmuk-nganjin marnang [Prounounced: ‘Murr (as in purr)-muck – nan – ginn (as in bin) marr nang], meaning ‘We Work Hands’.
The facility will boast a 1,700-square-metre footprint, featuring a 2.5-metre-deep sand pit, double-height ceilings spanning the entire workshop, and a three-story training rig that simulates a building under construction.
Its modular design will allow for multi-use spaces that can adapt to varying needs, creating ‘trade zones’ where students can gain hands-on experience in full view of other trades. Simulated worksites will replicate actual construction worksites, encompassing frames, subfloors, and roof structures, equipped with the latest tools.
The building itself will be a learning experience, with its inner workings on display (such as exposed sanitary and water tanks) and access to live technology (such as solar panels). Roof access and other outdoor zones will also be available for students.
All this will give students a sense of what it’s like to work on a real construction site, in a safe and supported environment.
Roll-in mobile benches with connection to virtual, augmented and mixed reality programs will allow RMIT students to safely develop skills before engaging in ‘live’ situations, such as welding.
Technology will be integrated not just into what trades students learn, but how. Hybrid and online teaching will be available where learning does not have to be delivered face-to-face.
With its position at RMIT’s Bundoora East campus, the new facility will provide a link between students and the opportunities presented by major infrastructure and construction projects in the northern corridor.
The location will also bring together trades education and the existing pre-apprenticeship training at Bundoora East and the Skills and Jobs Centre at Bundoora West.