editors letterRECENTLY, the South Gippsland Shire Council held its August Ordinary Council Meeting at the impressive-looking
GippsTAFE campus at Leongatha, now part of the Federation Training network of education and training facilities.
It may have been that Wednesdays are a quiet day at the Leongatha campus of TAFE or that there are more and more courses being delivered online, but we’ve got to be honest when we say that the building looked worryingly empty.
There was activity going on in the Wild Flower Café which was encouraging and there looked to be a couple of people in the office but otherwise there was no one in the nice looking classrooms and no one using the array of computers in the various rooms.
We tried unsuccessfully to ask the appropriate officers at the Leongatha campus and also at the head office at Morwell for an update on TAFE activities and to raise a query or two about why the Leongatha campus appeared to be so quiet.
No one was willing to talk to us.
There has been some worrying reports swirling around
GippsTAFE and the other institute it recently merged with, Advance TAFE, in recent times including that they made losses of $5 million and $9 million respectively to the end of June 2013 (the most recent figures available).
Then we were presented with a report by the Shadow Minister for Higher Education, Steve Herbert, this week referencing The Victorian Training Market Half Year Report from the Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development showing what amounts to a collapse in market share of government subsidised training by TAFE, down from 40 per cent in 2010 to just 27 per cent in 2014.
So, we put two and two together and came up with the answer that, like other TAFE facilities across the state, Leongatha’s training venue must be operating at less than capacity.
To be fair, the report from the government headlines the good news that there were 311,900 students enrolled in government subsidised training during the period, 1 per cent more than the same time in 2013 and 44 per cent more than 2010.
It’s just that they aren’t in TAFEs, 57 per cent of them are getting their training through private RTOs. Is this a good thing?
Our concerns are twofold.
We would like to be reassured that Leongatha’s wonderful new TAFE facility has a future and that locals can continue to get access to a broad range of courses there.
Our second concern is that the State Government has not explained at all well what has happened in the TAFE space and what is going to happen and while there continues to be a vacuum, it is going to be of major concern to the community (and the electorate) in the run up to the November 2014 poll.
Clearly the Opposition stands ready to hit the Coalition over the head with its views, as the pre-emptive strike last week by Mr Herbert indicates.
Come on, can someone at least talk to us about it?