TAFE faces enrolment downturn
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in the Pundulmurra campus and the Hedland campus simply by virtue of the fact some of the mining companies have withdrawn from training contracts.”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.