The First Minister, Alex Salmond. and College Principal Heather Dunk joined the first apprentice to be employed, Rachel Kyle - also a student of the college - for a sod-cutting ceremony on the site of the former Diageo bottling plant.
The new campus will include a health and wellbeing centre, hair and beauty salon, a learning resource centre as well as sector leading facilities for the teaching of sport and science, technology and engineering.
Mr Salmond said: "Ayrshire College's new £53m Kilmarnock Campus will play a huge part in the on-going regeneration of the town.
"Being built on the former Diageo site, it will deliver state of the art learning facilities, as well as create more than 170 construction jobs, apprenticeship places and numerous work placement and training opportunities."