FEDERATION Training chief executive Wendy Wood has welcomed the opportunity for the TAFE institute to share in $20 million of emergency funding from the state government.
Training and Skills Minister Steve Herbert and Eastern Victoria MLC Harriet Shing visited the institute’s Yallourn campus on Thursday to announce the funding and discuss the future of training in Gippsland.
Federation Training will be one of seven TAFEs eligible for fast tracked funding from the $320 million TAFE Rescue Fund to help TAFEs retain staff and improve training, courses and job opportunities for students.
The previous cuts to TAFE funding led to the merger of Advance TAFE and GippsTAFE, resulting in job losses and course closures.
Mr Herbert said the TAFE funding cuts made it harder for young people to gain skills, get a job and build a better life.
“This is an emergency. With TAFEs running up more than $70 million in losses last year, there are TAFE campuses across Victoria on the brink of collapse and our TAFE Rescue Fund will keep them alive,” he said.
Ms Shing supported the continuing of Federation Training’s transformation and growth plan.
“The Labor government is rebuilding our TAFE system and rescuing campuses like Federation Training, so young people across Gippsland can get the skills they need for the jobs they want,” she said.
Ms Wood said Federation Training planned to base its submission for access to the $20m TAFE fund towards supporting students to complete their studies, particularly the continuance of courses which lead to or supported employment despite low enrolment numbers.
“Funds will also be used to support teacher led modernisation of course materials and quality improvement. Improving infrastructure and course resources is also a high priority,” Ms Wood said.
Ms Wood said Federation Training was on track for a bright future as the premier provider of vocational education in the region.
“Our bottom line is looking quite strong for this year, we had our first positive operating months in October and November which was a great indicator that our transformation plan is beginning to work,” she said.
“We have spoken with the minister today who is very supportive of our transformation and business improvement plan. Our business improvement plan over the past 10 months has been about brining two organisations together, but the plan for 2015 is focused very strongly on growth.”
Ms Wood said enrolments for 2015 were looking strong.
Federation Training will host information sessions tomorrow at its Bairnsdale, Sale (Flexible Learning Centre), Traralgon and Warragul campuses from 3pm to 6pm.
The Gippsland Times asked Mr Herbert if the long anticipated development of the Port of Sale campus was on the government’s agenda.
He responded that the Port of Sale site was owned by Federation Training, however as the site had not been used for training delivery it was not a TAFE campus.
He said Federation Training was currently considering what the optimal training solution was for Sale and how the Port of Sale fits into that.
“The government is working with Federation Training and the community in developing the solution,” he said.
“The … government’s first priority is to halt the rapid decline of training and to grow Federation Training through a share of the first fast-tracked $20 million.”