Under the current Government, TAFE NSW has well and truly entered the 21st century as a leader in tertiary education.
In Young, the $10.4 million redeveloped was opened by Nationals Assistant Minister for Skills Adam Marshall and local Member for Cootamundra, Katrina Hodgkinson. The redevelopment has established critical infrastructure in key growth areas such as early childhood education and health and aged care – both fields with high job growth in the regions.
“I am so pleased the first stage of the NSW Government’s investment is coming to life and I can already see how much this innovative new development will benefit the Young community,” Katrina said.
“Students will be learning in simulated work environments, which will sharpen their skills for real work situations and give them a head start when it comes time to graduate.”
The importance of modern learning courses and facilities offering flexibility in delivery and tangible, industry relevant skills was emphasised by Adam, who has spent the past month travelling NSW announcing funding and delivering the Nationals and Liberals policy to the communities which rely on TAFE.
“The NSW Government is investing in facilities across the State and particularly in rural and regional areas so that students can access a quality vocational education wherever they are located,” he said.
“The reforms of this Government will see TAFE NSW and industry collaborate to provide the best possible outcomes to students and the State’s economy.”
Young TAFE is set for further development with Stage Two refurbishing the electro-technology trade area.
Also opening last week was the $4.2 million refurbishment of Taree TAFE’s learning and training facilities. With health and social care the largest employer in the Manning Valley, the reconstruction focused on simulation learning in nursing and aged care. Member for Myall Lakes, Steven Bromhead opened the development, which he said was a “vote of confidence” at State level of the prospects for Taree and its surrounds.
Currently, Connected Learning Centres (CLCs) are rolling out across the state as part of the new initiative implemented by NSW TAFE and the State Government. The modern centres will align with today’s education models with enhanced digital learning and greater teacher access. They will also increase and improve TAFE presence in smaller regionals towns.
“The NSW Government has always said that where there is a TAFE today there will be a TAFE in the future and I reaffirm that commitment today as we focus on communities where TAFE doesn’t have a presence or where outdated facilities are not meeting future needs,” said Adam.
Four multi-million dollar CLC’s will be rolled out immediately in the National’s electorates of Barwon, Upper Hunter, Lismore and Northern Tablelands – in the towns of Coonabarabran, Quirindi, Tenterfield and Glen Innes respectively.
Glen Innes last year produced the TAFE TVET Student of the Year in Brandon Davis, who began studying mechanics while still at Emmaville Central School. The opportunity to undertake vocational study at school aided his transition to becoming a full time mechanic, with Brandon now aiming to own his own shop. Other regional TAFE student and graduates have also recognised for the their hard work and dedication including Josh Terras from Kurri Kurri TAFE was this year named as Komatsu’s Apprentice of the Year and in Bega – where the disused hospital site will be transformed into another CLC – Librarian Stacey Cook was named TAFE Trainee of the Year.
Brandon, Josh and Stacey are examples of why TAFE is – for rural and regionals towns and in particular – essential to our communities, supporting local jobs and part of the economic fabric. For the youth demographic TAFE is vital, allowing school leavers a seamless transition to the workforce and equipping them with trades and skills specific to their career path.
The Nationals and Liberals truly recognise TAFE’s special significance with the wide-ranging TAFE redevelopments. In addition to the redevelopments and CLC roll-out, six new regional Skillspoint Headquarters were announced for Dubbo, Griffith, Tamworth, Coffs Harbour, Newcastle and Queanbeyan in May, giving regional students access to world-class educational facilities. TAFE’s new Digital Headquarters was also decentralised to Armidale late last year, a facility now recruiting for some 40 positions from administration to senior management including TAFE NSW Digital’s Head of Digital Design, Head of Digital Learning Lab and Head of Product Design.
The NSW Government’s commitment to TAFE is supported at a Federal Level with the 2017 Commonwealth Budget establishing the Skilling Australians Fund, creating 300,000 new apprenticeships. This replaces the disastrous Labor policy which saw apprenticeship levels fall by 22 per cent over 2012-2013, the largest ever recorded fall. The Budget also funded a $60 million mentorship program, to support students at the highest risk of dropping out of training.