More than 130 students are expected to make use of Muresk Institute’s new Agricultural Machinery Training Centre next year, with interstate companies also scoping out how they can send trainees west to use its facilities. Farm Machinery Industry Association of WA chair Brad Forrester said the “cutting edge” facility — opened by WA Premier Roger Cook in September — was attracting attention from machinery businesses Australia-wide. The $9.5 million facility opened to students in July, after nearly 12 years of lobbying by the FMIA. It aimed to students a base for training blocks while completing their Certificate III in Agricultural Mechanical Technology or Certificate III in Automotive Sales, as well as providing a training space for machinery dealerships nationwide. Mr Forrester said apprentices completing a Certificate III in Agricultural Mechanical Technology through Central Regional TAFE were the first to train in the new workshops, classrooms and laboratories. He said the new facility was attracting interstate interest for its “purpose-built” environment. AFGRI has already used the centre to run a header school and plans to next year send its apprentices there for the practical components of their TAFE studies. “I don’t think this should be the limit for Muresk in regards to machinery... there is so much potential and we believe there should be much more invested into the Institute,” he said. Mr Forrester pointed to the need to train those keen to work with machinery in technology, rather than solely focus on the traditional heavy diesel apprenticeships on offer through TAFEs nationwide. “We need to move forward with the times, we still have TAFE just offering a heavy diesel mechanic apprenticeship… we are really trying to get that tech piece into it,” he said. “We need to train people into the industry.” Two combine harvester simulators were also included in the project as well as a range of other agricultural machinery options, offering a realistic farm experience in a training environment. About 3000 students pass through the 898ha training Muresk Institute each year, which is located 10km south of Northam and straddled by farmland at Muresk.