The Solomon Islands National University (SINU) on June 7th signed a landmark Collaboration Agreement with the Australia-Pacific Technical College (APTC) and the Solomon Islands Skills for Economic Growth (S4EG) Program for the development of an Automotive Centre of Excellence to be located within the School of Technology and Maritime Studies (STMS) on the Kukum Campus.

The Agreement covers the appointment of a full-time Automotive Engineering Skills Adviser from Australia who is working to build the capability of the STMS Automotive trainers to deliver the new National Automotive Apprenticeship Courses in Light and Heavy Vehicles which will commence at SINU in July this year. The Agreement also brings an additional investment of $480,000 for the construction of a new multi-purpose Automotive Workshop and around $1.35m for plant, tools and equipment and a further $325,000 for specialist items and teaching and learning resources. The total value of Australia’s investment in the Automotive Centre of Excellence is around $2.4m. Construction of the workshop commenced on 22 May and the expected completion date is 7 August.

In addition to the investment in the Automotive Centre of Excellence, the Australian Government’s S4EG program is working with SINU’s School of Business and management to create a Model Office. The Model Office includes the concept of a ‘virtual enterprise skills training centre’ creating a ‘replicated workplace environment’ where students can create their own ‘virtual reality’ businesses. The students who would be engaged in ‘scenario based training adding to a stronger emphasis on ‘real life’ working situations and hands on experience of a work environment. The concept to create a Model Office is underpinned by a proposal to develop a new national Certificate level course in Business Studies similar to the Australian Training Package at Certificate 4 level. The new course will have mutual recognition within and credit transfer to, the SINU Diploma of Business.

The Australian Government funds both APTC and S4EG and the Agreement with SINU is an example of the high level of cooperation between Australia’s regional and bilateral programs.