TAFE faces en­rol­ment down­turn

Pilbara News - - Front Page - Tom Zaun­mayr

En­rol­ment in North Re­gional TAFE’s Pil­bara cam­puses has plum­meted by more than 1000 stu­dents as the State Govern­ment pushes ahead with the re­struc­tur­ing of re­sources across North West fa­cil­i­ties.

Pil­bara In­sti­tute, now part of North Re­gional TAFE, ex­pe­ri­enced a 25.7 per cent drop in en­rol­ments from the pre­vi­ous year, the high­est of any­where in the State.

The Kim­ber­ley and Gold­fields re­gions, which have also been hit hard by the re­sources down­turn, have ex­pe­ri­enced dou­ble-digit growth.

Train­ing and Work­force Devel­op­ment Min­is­ter Liza Har­vey said the fig­ures in the Pil­bara had been ex­pected.

“The Pil­bara has seen a de­cline be­cause we’ve seen a com­plete re­struc­ture of the econ­omy,” she said.

“We ex­pected there would be a de­cline in en­rol­ments in the Pun­dul­murra cam­pus and the Hed­land cam­pus sim­ply by virtue of the fact some of the min­ing com­pa­nies have with­drawn from train­ing con­tracts.”

Labor Mem­ber for Min­ing and Pas­toral Stephen Daw­son said Mrs Har­vey’s ar­gu­ment did not stack up.

“We’ve seen name changes, we’ve seen cam­puses close, we’ve seen fee in­creases and peo­ple have started to lose faith in the TAFE sys­tem,” he said.

“Where some­one might have gone to do a course at TAFE lo­cally it’s now cheaper in many cases to do a uni­ver­sity course.

“You are prob­a­bly see­ing less in­come in house­holds, par­tic­u­larly in the Pil­bara.”

Mr Daw­son said while there may be some ben­e­fit in shar­ing re­sources un­der the new struc­ture, he held con­cerns for fur­ther staff cuts.

Mrs Har­vey said the State could take heart in the fact hours stud­ied in pri­or­ity cour­ses where the State

Govern­ment had iden­ti­fied a need for more grad­u­ates had in­creased 26 per cent.

“We’ve got stu­dents train­ing in pro­grams which lead to em­ploy­ment,” she said.

State School Teach­ers’ Union vice pres­i­dent Sa­man­tha Schofield said TAFE should not be lim­ited to fo­cus­ing on pri­or­ity cour­ses while the econ­omy was di­ver­si­fy­ing.

Ms Schofield said it was con­cern­ing to see gen­eral in­dus­try course en­rol­ments drop­ping by about 24 per cent and ap­pren­tice­ships by about 9 per cent across WA.

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