FEDERATION Training has declared it remains committed to Wellington Shire, despite a dramatic drop in student numbers.
Six months after questions were asked by a Wellington Shire councillor, the TAFE provider has responded to council in writing.
In November last year, Cr Patrick McIvor asked council chief executive David Morcom to provide an update on how much of the state government’s TAFE Rescue Fund would be spent locally and details of enrolment and course completion rates.
The questions came amid concerns for the future of Federation Training’s local facilities, and frustration over the stalled relocation of the Fulham campus into Sale.
Initial inquiries with the TAFE were made in December, but apart from a meeting in February, no formal response had been received by council until last month when Federation Training’s chief executive Wendy Wood met with Mr Morcom.
On May 23, council received written correspondence setting out the TAFE provider’s response.
In the response Ms Wood said Federation Training’s 2016-2018 strategic plan and statement of corporate intent mentioned the need to establish a Sale higher education plan.
“At the current time, Federation Training is in discussions with the Department of Education to improve the quality of facilities within the Sale area,” she said.
“Federation Training is committed to the Sale region and will continue to work closely with Wellington Shire Council to achieve a suitable outcome that will improve access to education.
“Whilst the provided data shows a significant decline in student numbers, this is consistent with the vocational education sector across Victoria.”
She said the decline in vocational education across Gippsland was consistent with other areas of Victoria.
Last year, there were 817 students enrolled at Federation Training, 774 fewer than 2014.
This year, up to April 30, there were 530 total students, with an increase in school students in vocational education and training.
The completion rate of modules at Fulham last year was 90 per cent, slightly higher than other Federation Training campuses delivering similar training.
Ms Wood said it was difficult to determine exactly how much of state government funding would be spent in Wellington Shire, but mentioned activities which had been undertaken locally.
These included establishing a Skills and Jobs Centre in Sale, relocation of the Federation Training call centre to Fulham and the Paddock to Plate initiative to identify training partnership opportunities with local industry.
“Federation Training has not reduced its operational budget within the Sale area and has no plans to do this,” Ms Wood said.
Mayor Darren McCubbin was thankful a response had been provided.
“We recognise the importance of training and TAFE for our area,” he said.
“We are certainly working hard to ensure that we can get the removal of the facilities from Fulham into town,” Cr McCubbin said.
“It’s important that our young people and our existing businesses have access to good quality training and education.”