BioPathways Partnerships Project launched in the Latrobe Valley

Opal Australian Paper general manager Adrian Berton, TAFE Gippsland board chair Des Powell and Training and Skills Minister Gayle Tierney opened a bio-manufacturing training centre at the Gippsland TAFE Yallourn campus. photograph michelle slater
Opal Australian Paper general manager Adrian Berton, TAFE Gippsland board chair Des Powell and Training and Skills Minister Gayle Tierney opened a bio-manufacturing training centre at the Gippsland TAFE Yallourn campus. photograph michelle slater

A new $3.8 million bio-manufacturing training centre at TAFE Gippsland's Yallourn campus was opened on March 29 to help develop emerging industries and diversify the local workforce.

The BioPathways Partnerships Project in collaboration with TAFE Gippsland and Federation University is being backed with a $500,000 investment from Opal Australian Paper.

The new centre was officially opened by Training and Skills Minister Gayle Tierney who said it signalled confidence in developing a "significant industry" for the region.

The purpose facility features the latest bio-manufacturing equipment and a national-first curriculum to support the training course that will be offered from mid this year.

The bio-manufacturing centre will train people in emerging industries such as energy from waste, processing effluent or energy from bio digesters.

Opal Australian Paper public relations general manager Craig Dunn said the company was looking for more flexibility in its future workforce, and bio-manufacturing could apply to a range of industries.

Mr Dunn said Opal Australian Paper was seeking better bio-manufacturing processes to improve efficiency at its Maryvale plant.

"We are involved in a lot of types of organic waste and organic products and the bio economy, this is just a natural feature for us to be involved in," Mr Dunn said.

"We are constantly putting new people on at Maryvale, and we see ourselves as making use of the graduates from this program."

Gippsland Trades and Labour Council secretary Steve Dodd described bio-manufacturing as a "whole new exciting industry" for Gippsland, providing a transition for the regions workforce.

Mr Dodd said the GTLC had been working with the state government, as well as training providers, employers and universities to develop the new course.

"It's great to retrain people but you need an industry to go into, this is what bio-manufacturing is doing, creating new industries where workers may move into after appropriate training," he said.

Latrobe City Mayor Sharon Gibson said the new centre was about finding new pathways and jobs for the future.

"We have to look at new initiatives for the future. It's pleasing to see Australian Paper looking at what the future will look like, they are stepping up to be a part of that future," Cr Gibson said.

"It would be pleasing to see many more industries doing the same thing because they are changing and we don't know what the future will hold."