National Skills Week Spotlight – Holmesglen’s Victorian Tunnelling Centre

Tunneling centre

National Skills Week celebrates the innovation and commitment of vocational education.

To coincide, Rail Projects Victoria met with staff from the Victorian Tunnelling Centre (VTC), located at our Drummond Street campus.

One of only a few specialist tunnelling training sites in the world, the VTC provides training to people working on Victorian infrastructure projects, such as the Metro Tunnel Project.

The following article has been re-produced with permission from Rail Projects Victoria.

When it comes to tunnelling training, Victoria is a world leader.

That’s the key takeaway from a conversation with Ryan Power (pictured below), one of the trainers at Holmesglen Institute’s Victorian Tunnelling Centre (VTC).

“Our centre is one of four in the world specialising in tunnelling,” he says. “It sets our state up for the future because you go where the people are trained. That’s networking 101.”

Ryan’s extensive background in working underground led him on a path to training and upskilling the workforce that will build Victoria’s infrastructure for generations to come.

He’s been there, done that.

“I used to be a trainer in the Metro Tunnel. I have three tunnels under my belt. I was also at Westconnex in Sydney as part of the commissioning team, and I worked in mechanical supervision on the Snowy Hydro.”

As experienced as he is, he knows just how realistic the VTC’s tunnels are.

Their ability to change conditions as a real tunnel would makes them a unique training ground.

“The tunnels are a 100% exact replica of what metro underground looks like now,” he says. “We’ve got two stages of it, the shotcrete and the segment line tunnel.

“We can put on a soundtrack, change to different heating conditions, and give people a taste of what it’s like down there. It’s not just a visual – you feel it as well. It’s a case of ‘this is what you’re getting into, and these are the sort of conditions we work in’.”

That approach, realism and adaptability, is what has attracted large numbers of workers to train at the centre.

Those students include a growing number of women getting involved in tunnelling.

“We have had quite a large number of women come through and do specialist programs for different projects.

“Our students come from all different areas and backgrounds and skillsets, trying to break into industry. I encourage anyone to get involved.”

It’s not just the workforce that’s wanting to upskill and retrain to enter the world of rail and road tunnelling.

Ryan has found there’s a lot of interest from his peers, who like what they see happening at Holmesglen.

“People from across industry have asked me what it’s like,” he says. “They want to get in touch and see if there’s an opportunity for them to work with us.”

The pipeline of trainers and students shows no sign of petering out, given the number of projects on the agenda in Victoria, Australia, and our region.

With skills learnt at the VTC, Ryan says, the world is the trainee’s oyster.

“We’re recognised on a global scale for future works.

“There’s going to be a lot of tunnelling Australia-wide and we’re giving that core foundation of training that’s available not just to Victoria. We have the capability to talk to other states and train up workers for the future and if they want to, they can take these skills and go around the world.”

Equally as important, workers who prefer to stay put can expect an interesting, varied career in their own backyard.

There’s a good 15+ years of work in Victoria alone, Ryan says. The work he and his colleagues are doing will upskill locals for an exciting, lucrative future.

“Having that foundation, the ability to take comprehensive training here and keep workers within Australia is an advantage.

“We want to be world leaders.”

You can find out more information about what training and career opportunities are available at the Victorian Tunnelling Centre via

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