TAFE cuts bite in bush

TAFE cuts bite in bush


Opinion
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IT'S hard to see how ongoing changes to TAFE will be of benefit to rural NSW.

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IT'S hard to see how ongoing changes to TAFE will be of benefit to rural NSW.

The shift to online learning, which will increasingly replace face-to-face teaching while campuses in rural areas are also closed, means people without reliable internet - of which there is no shortage in the bush - will have to travel further for their training.

Along with the increasing fees of many courses, it makes TAFE less accessible.

We've already seen in the June state budget figures a drop of 83,000 enrolments in the past three years.

The concept of teachers hosting lessons at rural and regional businesses is also a cop out.

For instance, if you're doing wool classing, where are all the properties throughout the year that can provide access to wool and let you - a class full of at least a dozen untrained classers - class their wool?

Or, what fabrication business is going to let a whole class of students have a go at welding, when the cost of materials and time lost to hosting the students likely comes at their expense.

Agriculture could benefit immensly from improved skills training, yet the government is rolling out increased fees and campus closures.

As fees increase and people have to travel further to access courses, enrolments will drop away and fuel the argument that demand is no longer there - in turn white anting the case to maintain teachers.

This just opens the way for the private operators, which are only going to service areas where they can turn a profit (including pushing courses they can cost effectively market, helping to give them an edge), not neccessarily the areas where skills-based training is most needed.

In some cases, local businesses are already hosting on-site training - these are called apprenticeships.

But how many apprentices can afford to drive to Orange and pay accommodation while also being away from work to conduct face-to-face training because a campus like Grenfell has closed?

An advantage for many with a TAFE in their town has been the access to evening classes after work, which could be out of reach if people have to drive more than an hour each way.

The visibility of TAFE is also important in its recognition as a quality skills provider in the community.

Taking this away will only make it harder for rural businesses to find the skilled staff they need.

The story TAFE cuts bite in bush first appeared on Farm Online.

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