Downer has joined forces with Victoria’s biggest regional university to boost skills and career opportunities for regional Victorian students.

As part of a two year partnership, Downer and Federation University Australia will work together on future areas of collaboration in education and training.

The agreement was marked by the official signing of a Memorandum of Understanding by Professor Todd Walker, FedUni Deputy Vice Chancellor (Engagement) and Sergio Cinerari, Downer’s CEO Infrastructure Services.

The event was also attended by State Labor Member for Buninyong, Geoff Howard MP.

The agreement binds the parties to explore potential collaboration on workplace projects across FedUni’s regional campuses.

To kickstart the engagement, Downer announced today it will provide $160,000 to fund eight industry placements for FedUni students in 2017.

“The University is delighted to partner with Downer in this joint venture with our students. The Memorandum of Understanding signed today will lead to greater collaboration between FedUni and Downer,” Professor Walker said.

“The work placements, sponsored by Downer, will be awarded to senior FedUni undergraduate students and facilitated by the University’s Industry Placement Program scholarships.”

Mr Cinerari said Downer was proud to formalise its relationship with Federation University Australia.

“This marks the beginning of a partnership that we hope will grow and contribute to the creation of a sustainable industry for the future,” Mr Cinerari said. “As a major contributor to the construction, operation and maintenance of Victorian infrastructure, Downer takes its responsibility to invest in the development of regional skills and capability very seriously,” he said.

“This agreement will bring fresh talent who we will build into Downer’s future leaders. We want to attract, select, develop and retain the best people to strengthen our knowledge, skills and capabilities.”

Mr Howard said this partnership closely aligns with Labor’s investment to create the Ballarat Skills and Jobs Centre at FedUni which will provide real-world, project-based skills training for students in partnership with industry.

“I commend this initiative to develop a partnership between Downer and Federation University that will help young people in our region find a pathway into employment,” Mr Howard said.

“As jobs are becoming increasingly high-tech, it’s important that students gain the skills they need to keep pace with advances in technology.

“I’m proud that the Andrews Labor Government has invested heavily to restore TAFE in our region, including funding for a new skills and jobs centre and a modern tech school here at Federation University.

“Now we’re seeing businesses come on board by creating opportunities that will develop a highly skilled and diverse local workforce to grow our economy.”