‘Glimmer of hope’ for TAFE

GIPPSLAND’S TAFE sector could be presented with a glimmer of hope, according to Latrobe City Mayor Ed Vermeulen.

In a meeting with Latrobe City Council over recent funding cuts to the vocational training sector, State Skills Minister Peter Hall assured council he would “financially reexamine” issues associated with the cuts.

Cr Vermeulen said he felt more “heartened” following the meeting with Mr Hall.

In his meeting with council, Mr Hall said TAFE institutes would be funded with $70,000 to initiate a new business planning model to help them identify and serve the needs of the region.

This planning model is expected to help TAFEs “transition” into the government’s new funding arrangements.

“There will never be a budget reversal, but we have pleaded (with the minister) to look at us as a special case,” Cr Vermeulen said.

“He said he would financially reexamine some of the issues (faced by TAFE providers) as part of the transition and would be prepared to offer some State Government financial support if necessary.”

The meeting between council and the minister was followed by the State Government’s launch of the State of the Valley report, which is hoped to further inform the government and provide input on supporting the local economy.

Mr Hall said this report would “not be in conflict” with changes to the TAFE sector, adding it would help in the “identification of needs” of the region.

However, Cr Vermeulen said changes to the TAFE sector could not be taken in isolation to the report, adding he “would have preferred some real dollars” attached to the proposal.

“I don’t think we can see a visual future through the Skilling of the Valley report without any real financial outcomes,” Cr Vermeulen said.

He said while the report did provide some guidance, the Valley would be “more enthusiastic” to see “some dollars at the end of the day”.

“We need to look at education and training and particularly vocational training in a connected way,” he said.

“You have to look at the whole picture of secondary, tertiary, training and skilling of apprenticeships in a holistic way.

“I don’t believe you can isolate one area out, treat that in a particular way and then find it automatically fits.

“A holistic approach is far more useful and I’m not sure that the State of the Valley (report) without funds does that.”