LETTER TO THE EDITOR:
AS another education year ends, it's imperative to know what's available for those not heading to university.
While everyone waits for a new TAFE campus, it's time to realise it may never happen, and it's still not clear whether Federation Training can rise like a phoenix from the ashes and finally adapt to the open competition environment.
Opening up the TAFE sector was a government initiative, and we now have other registered training organisations in our shire.
Where do they fit in, and are they embraced by the Wellington Shire Council and the Local Learning and Education Networks?
Our community needs to stop thinking of only one TAFE option, and begin responding to the new environment as per the government's original expectation.
I call upon the council to embrace the new competitive TAFE environment and make it easier to find local training by compiling and making available a directory of registered training organisations in our region.
When the government opened up the sector to competition there were lots of rogue agencies appearing, but there have also been some gems uncovered.
Two doors down from the council's customer service centre is Partners in Training, which started from humble beginnings but has become a training leader in nursing, aged care, and community services, and it has built a solid reputation with students and employers, delivering face-to-face training at competitive fees.
It is proof that a registered training organisation can be sustainable and successful.
Unfortunately, because of rogue elements and the government trying to put the brakes on private registered training organisations, it does not get the same benefits as Federation Training and is subject to operating restrictions.
We need to know who is who in the education zoo and encourage local MPs and local government to identify and support local, honest private registered training organisations, to help make them sustainable and acknowledge the amazing work they are doing and ensure they find a reason to stay.
Everyone loved our local TAFE, but it failed to rise to the new environment, unable to become competitive and to recover when the government withdrew funding to multiple courses, and a downturn in apprentices when the last of the wave, who were hired during a time of employer incentives, were finishing their trade certificates.
I urge local government and the education networks to get behind all of our registered training organisations and to lobby the government to give all registered training organisations the same rules, to lobby for more student funding, and, most importantly, a return of employer incentives to hire apprentices to stimulate the sector.