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Victorian students interested in rail and construction have begun a two-year pilot program, ending in 2021, as a part of their high school education.

In an Australian-first, the two-year, part-time course will count towards a VCE qualification, and will provide students with a basic knowledge of the rail industry in Victoria.

The course is designed to get students involved in the rail industry, as more than half of the workers in the rail industry are currently aged over 45, and only 11 per cent are aged under 30.

Led by the Level Crossing Removal Project, the Certificate II in Heavy and Light Rail Fundamentals (pre-vocational) is aimed at students in years 9 and 10.

The 21 students enrolled in the course, from schools in Geelong, Berwick and Ringwood, will attend a weekly class at the Newport Community Hub. They’ll also get hands-on training at the nearby Rail Academy.

The curriculum is taught by Swinburne University of Technology and sees the students undertake training in all areas of railway operations, including customer service, safety awareness, rail infrastructure and rolling stock.

By the end of the course, students will have the technical know-how to lay sections of rail track and use a model signalling system to control a train’s movement.

Minister for Public Transport, Melissa Horne, visited the first class of students at the Rail Academy in Newport to talk about careers in the transport industry and take a site tour of the purpose-built facility.

“As we get on and remove 75 level crossings, build the Metro Tunnel and upgrade regional rail – we’re training the next generation of rail workers right here in Victoria,” Ms Horne said.

“This Australian first is helping high school students get a taste for the rail industry – which is booming in Victoria thanks to our unprecedented number of projects on the go.”

Read more about new opportunities for young people in rail in Infrastructure‘s feature: Training the next generation of rail professionals.

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