WA opposition leader Mark McGowan and his Labor colleagues in the South West have raised serious concerns about recent changes to the public training sector.
Last month Training and Workforce Development minister Liza Harvey announced a plan to merge WA’s 11 TAFE colleges, which administer 70 campuses, down to five TAFE colleges.
Since April 11, South Regional TAFE, formerly the South West Institute of Technology and Great Southern Institute, now includes campuses in Bunbury, Busselton, Collie, Harvey, Manjimup, Margaret River, Albany, Denmark, Katanning, Mount Barker, Narrogin and Esperance.
South Regional TAFE has an interim managing director and a governing council responsible for ongoing training while the department of training and workforce determine the most appropriate location for TAFE college administration staff to be based.
Member for Collie-Preston Mick Murray told the Mail putting an area that size under one blanket is not going to work.
“You’ve got to work towards what the local communities want – whether it be agricultural training in Albany to fishing training in Bunbury,” he said.
“Places like Albany should be given autonomy so they don’t have to rely on someone in Bunbury making decisions for them.
“Each place should be left to decide what’s best for them and get on with their job, which is teaching our students.”
Last month Deputy Premier Harvey said the changes will have no affect on students enrolled in courses.
“Students currently enrolled will still have access to their training as the current campuses and courses offered remain unchanged,” she said.
“Under the changes there will be greater local community and industry collaboration to ensure students are being trained to meet local industry needs.
“It is merely about taking these backroom admin functions out of the system and freeing up the money to deliver more curriculum hours to our students.”
South West MLC Adele Farina said she does not believe the changes will lead to the savings the government are claiming.
“The TAFE scene needs to be responsive to changing job needs in regional areas and if you have got it all being run in one location covering an area as vast as this, it’s not going to be able to do that effectively,” she said.
“Any cost savings the government thinks this will achieve are fictional because in reality they are going to have to put other people in place in those regional areas to get the feedback needed to make the important decisions. “
Opposition leader Mark McGowan was in Bunbury on Tuesday to announce WA Labor’s Plan For Jobs which puts a strong focus on the future of regional education.
He said the government’s plan to reunify the TAFE brand was an idea they copied from Labor.
“The TAFE banner was the brand for the industry up until 2009/10 when the current government created different polytechnics and institutions which cost millions of dollars in remarketing,” he said.
“We announced in January we would reinstate the TAFE brand and get rid of that stupidity.
“A few weeks later they followed suit, forgetting that they created the problem in the first place.”