A tailored retraining program has sparked a brighter future for about 200 former Toyota workers.

Thousands of workers lost their jobs last year when Toyota closed its factory doors in Altona after 54 years and almost 3.5 million cars.

The automotive industry was already in a tailspin following the decision by Ford and Holden to cease manufacturing in Australia.

While some workers used the closure to retire or enter entirely new fields, others have been working to put their experience to use in areas that are struggling to fill positions due to skills shortages.

VU Polytechnic’s Skills and Job Centre has been working with employers and agencies such as Adecco Australia to develop “short and sharp” training programs to upskill the workers and help them find new jobs in areas like welding.

Victoria Polytechnic vocational education VP Grant Dreher said the Sunshine-based centre has so far helped about 200 former Toyota workers retrain via a five-day course.

“I think it can be easier to make these kinds of matches in what you might call the hard industries, with these workers who have engineering-type skills,” he said.

“They have a need for some level of training but are not starting from scratch.”

Mr Dreher said the automotive industry contraction has had a significant impact on jobs in the west, but there were many opportunities available in smaller-scale manufacturing.

“We are out there talking with industry on a regular basis and speaking with peak bodies, and like us they are keen to make sure we are skilling our workers for the jobs of the future.”