Victorian Tunnelling Centre builds infrastructure skills


February 2023

MetroHub and Victorian Tunnelling Centre

Together, CYP Design and Construction (CYP) and Holmesglen Institute have created the Victorian Tunnelling Centre (VTC), a one-of-a-kind skilling facility based on international best practice. This follows the partnership’s earlier work on MetroHub, a jobs and training centre for Melbourne’s Metro Tunnel Project.
CYP is a joint venture of John Holland, Lendlease and Bouygues delivering the Metro Tunnel Project’s rail tunnels and underground stations.

Early relationship building

MetroHub was conceived during the early stages of CYP’s tender process. It provided training and employment to thousands of Victorians, helping CYP meet the State’s Major Projects Skills Guarantee. 

A highly collaborative and joint commitment to agreed objectives was formed from the outset.

“It’s about constant communication with industry. Working with construction companies on their training model well in advance, during the pre-tender phase, is the new norm of how we do business, helping employers understand the REAL cost of skilling.

We’re building robust, mature, trusting relationships that allow us to understand what’s happening in the industry.”

Meeting industry needs

Holmesglen drew on their partner’s expertise in major tunnelling projects globally, with CYP providing technical advice and oversight for the VTC.

“Listening closely unearths the pain points. What do they need and how can we offer a valid value proposition? It might be combinations of accredited and non-accredited programs that align with their organisational practice. They pick and mix what they need.

It’s not just training - we ensure workers are fit for the roles they’re doing.”

VTC’s Steering Committee and Advisory Group ensure industry needs are met by including senior representatives from a range of Tier 1 construction companies, utilities companies, and peak bodies for tunnelling.

The centre is now supporting many other major infrastructure projects, including Melbourne’s current West Gate Tunnel and North East Link Project.

“By investing in VTC, State government is supporting major infrastructure projects in Victoria and averting a skills shortage in tunnelling.

People now come with an awareness of the underground environment. It’s rare that workers can practice in a safe environment before being exposed to a real worksite.

VTC is a quantum leap in preparing people for underground. It’s upskilling a new generation of construction professionals.”

Members of CYP’s training and recruitment team co-located with Holmesglen staff at MetroHub. And it’s common for VTC staff to be recruited from major construction firms.

“Our trainers have real nous, with the skills and experience of being a senior construction person. It’s refreshing for industry leaders to come to VTC and see people who’ve just stepped off major construction sites.

It’s not a college, it’s the industry’s space.”

Innovation internally

Holmesglen Institute has become more practically focused in understanding the needs of the tunnelling industry, gaining deep insights into what’s required at various stages of major projects.

“VTC is a 24/7 business, not a 9-5 training organisation. It’s a Centre of Excellence mindset moving away from a teaching and learning led focus.

We work with industry to replicate experiences safely. We do everything we physically can on site, complemented by simulators, virtual reality, mixed reality and replicas.

At this level, the consequences are huge - if 50 operators need proof of their skills to start at a site on Monday, but don’t get it until Tuesday, the site can close for a day.”

With a decades-long pipeline of major construction projects to be delivered in Victoria, there are many opportunities to prove that, when established properly, collaborating with industry has fantastic outcomes for all.