Career dreams washed away

IT seemed like only yesterday when Awuoi Apech enrolled in the Central Gippsland Institute of TAFE, confident about her future.

Hours after the release of the State Government’s budget and its $100 million dollar cut to the TAFE sector, Ms Apech was left at a loss for words.

“I am totally nervous about my future… I’ve wanted to get into hospitality since I was in year 11 and now if (the government) wreck that, I don’t know what I’m going to do,” Ms Apech said.

Ms Apech, who recently enrolled in a diploma of tourism and hospitality, dreams of becoming a flight attendant one day.

An 18 year-old who currently works at a local fast food outlet to support her family in Africa while paying her own tuition fees, Ms Apech said she would soon endeavour to get into a flight attending school.

While her hospitality course could give her a significant head-start, the recent cuts and potential discontinuation of her course has now signalled a possible dead-end for her career.

“If (GippsTAFE) stop my course I won’t have the experience required and won’t be able to achieve what I want,” she said.

“As part of my course we get training at the (GippsTAFE) Warratah (training) restaurant… it has given me confidence to serve customers with a smile and has helped me a lot.”

Although GippsTAFE general manager corporate services Jim Vivian confirmed students currently enrolled in hospitality courses would be “taught out”, he said students could face 300 per cent fee increases.

This announcement has students of GippsTAFE “anxious”, with Ms Apech admitting “there’s no way I can afford to pay triple”.

Ms Apech said her fellow 10 peers currently undertaking front house training as part of their hospitality course were left questioning their future in the hospitality industry.

GippsTAFE kitchen operation certificate three and four student John Smithwick feared he would have to “leave the (hospitality) industry altogether”, adding he was looking at options in the mining industry.

GippsTAFE chief executive Peter Whitley said “these are miserable times”, with Ms Apech urging the government to look into the disaster currently unfolding around Victoria’s TAFE sector.

“(The government) should consider that a lot of students are enrolled in these TAFE courses and if they remove funding then they’re taking away our dreams and a lot of people will be left with no careers,” Ms Apech said.