The number of people signing up as apprentices or trainees in the south-west increased in 2021.
Neil Porter Legacy spokesman Matt Porter said it was good news, with many business owners desperate to secure staff across a number of industries.
The legacy works to make career education a priority for south-west students.
Data from NCVER shows 1100 people signed up to complete certificates required to finish a range of apprenticeships and traineeships.
The most popular industry choices were agriculture, parks and gardens, meat processing, commercial cookery, civil construction and carpentry.
The number of people completing certificates was higher than in 2020, when 905 people were signed up, while there were 885 in 2019 and 640 in 2018.
"It's great news as if we don't have apprentices signing on, businesses may close or leave the area and then there won't be opportunities for further apprenticeships," Mr Porter said.
"Some people have misconceptions about apprenticeships, however the Neil Porter Legacy sees them as further education and an excellent opportunity to get paid to learn skills with the possibility of running your own business in the future."
Camperdown's Stephanie Pemberton, 31, is completing an apprenticeship with Corangamite Shire's parks and gardens team.
She had been working in the role on a casual basis and decided she wanted to learn more.
"I really enjoyed my work and wanted not only to learn more but push myself so I asked if I could study," she said.
She said she had always loved gardening and was relishing the opportunity to learn more while working.
"I would encourage anyone at any age to do an apprenticeship in a different line of work," Ms Pemberton said. "If it is what you are passionate about and you want to learn more about it, I say 'go for it'."
Mr Porter said there were a high number of industries in the south-west experiencing skills shortages. He said business owners were looking for metal fabricators, fitters and turners, painters, plasterers and builders.
Mr Porter said most trades were seeking staff, but other industries were also affected.
"Hospitality venues are also suffering from workforce shortages," he said.
Mr Porter said there had been a great response to the legacy from schools in the south-west.
"The response has been amazing," he said. "The NPL recognises that there are many demands on teachers and schools and we work to organise industry engagements."
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