TAFE future uncertain amid cuts to courses
THE future of Warwick TAFE college remains clouded in uncertainty after a letter signalling the end of major courses was released earlier this week.
The letter, signed by director of Trades and Training Judy Burke, was sent to apprentice employers across the district.
Employers were notified that on-campus delivery at Warwick TAFE would be replaced by on-site delivery "where negotiated".
The courses move off-site from April 28 include boilermaking, fitting and turning, diesel fitting and metal fabrication.
Apprentices will instead have the option of attending "block" theory training by travelling to the Toowoomba or Bundamba campuses.
The letter states these changes will be "in order for TAFE to offer a different delivery model and give employers more workforce flexibility".
Southern Queensland Institute of TAFE and The Bremer Institute of TAFE Institute director Trevor Schwenke stands by the department's decision.
"Delivery of programs online allows for greater flexibility for students to study at a time and place convenient to them," he said.
"For employers it means that staff can complete training when it is convenient to the business rather than reduce productivity while their employees are training on campus."
Despite the insistence that this change will benefit local employers, many have their doubts.
Owner of Supafloats Warwick Terry Dwan, who employs four apprentices, is one of many concerned about this change.
"If the TAFE closes we as a company are going to struggle to get apprentices - they will start looking for jobs closer to training centres so they don't have ongoing costs," Mr Dwan warned.
Mr Dwan also highlighted travel issues for school-based apprentices.
"Three of our apprentices don't have a licence so they have to be dropped at the TAFE by a family member each day. If the TAFE closes these apprentices have to organise accommodation and transport in Toowoomba," he said.
Bruce Shelley of Shelley's industries said he was annoyed by the abrupt change in the program.
"Some of the boys had to go to Toowoomba to finish of their stuff six weeks ago. We were flat-chat and short-staffed," Mr Shelley said.
"It's so stupid after all these years to turn around and change the goal posts".
Mr Shelley said he was given no flexibility about the new arrangements stating "there were no ifs or buts".
"We have always been willing to put on apprentices and train them, but not when they are dragging them away," he said.
Another local business owner who didn't want to be named said he wasn't sure he would continue to run apprentices after the recent changes.
"We don't have time for the onsite training," he said.
Although the courses listed had shown a fall in enrolments, local Member Lawrence Springborg said he believed employers should be consulted over their needs and concerns.
"TAFE courses will vary from time to time due to a change in numbers," he said.