Victoria University’s TAFE arm will reopen its Werribee East campus as a ‘Technology Precinct’ to train hundreds of workers to work on the West Gate Tunnel.

A new partnership with tunnel constructor CPB-John Holland, announced on Tuesday, will see VU Polytechnic offer civil construction Certificate II, III and IV courses for trainees and apprentices working on the tollway project.

Under the Victorian Major Project Skills Guarantee, at least 500 of the 6000 jobs on the project will go to apprentices, trainees and recent graduates.

Premier Daniel Andrews said construction began earlier this year.

“There are already 1200 people working on the West Gate Tunnel – this partnership will make sure that young Victorians get the skills they need to help deliver this massive project,” he said.

Roads Minister Luke Donnellan said this will be the first time in four years VU Polytechnic will be teaching a new course in civil construction.

“This is an amazing opportunity for our apprentices and trainees to get practical training and experience that will provide a stepping stone for future employment.”

Certificate III in civil construction will be a free course under the state government’s promise to make 30 priority courses free from next year.

The government will spend $172 million making 30 priority TAFE courses and 18 pre-apprenticeship courses free from 2019.

Australian Education Union Victorian president Meredith Peace said this month’s state budget makes significant steps toward rebuilding the TAFE system.

“New free TAFE courses will provide great opportunities for young people,” she said.

“The benefits of free, quality TAFE education will extend to the whole Victorian community.”

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has also announced a Labor government would waive up-front fees for 100,000 TAFE students.