HIGH fees have resulted in course closures at the local TAFE, causing upset among locals.
Barringella’s Darren Colquhoun said he wanted the community to understand that courses such as welding at the Illawarra TAFE Nowra Campus had closed as a result of high fees.
“My son [Luke Vidaic], aged 17, started a statement of attainment welding course last year which was an 18-month course. He has completed 12 months of this course and has now been told it will no longer run in Nowra due to funding from the state government,” he said.
“He has no certificate or qualification in this area of expertise now.
“His employer is going on to help him complete his certificate III in carpentry, but even they will be stung because the course once cost around $600 and they will now be lumped with a $2000 bill.”
Mr Colquhoun said he was sure the higher fees would discourage small business employers from taking on new apprentices.
“The Nowra teachers effectively lost their jobs and now the welding course will be taught in Wollongong, meaning these kids now have to travel all the way there to finish it,” he said.
“The Nowra TAFE was told they needed 16 children to keep the course running – no exceptions. This is the same number as a city centre like Wollongong even though we have a much smaller population.
“Even the students who wanted to do the course there were those who had to pay out of their own pockets and simply couldn’t afford it.”
Mr Colquhoun said rural areas were being disadvantaged and young people were getting the raw end of the deal.
“As a result our young kids are going to remain untrained and unemployed,” he said.
“They won’t speak up about it because they’re young and they don’t know who to turn to. So I’m doing it for them.
“Our community needs to know what is really happening.”
Mr Colquhoun said if Australia’s young people weren’t able to access affordable education there was no chance they would be employable for large trade companies.
“Already we are seeing large companies like Manildra and LendLease seek tradespeople from overseas and I feel this is a result of not having access to people with the right qualifications right here,” he said.
“There are also no pre-apprenticeship courses being offered this year due to cutbacks.
“Something needs to change.”
Luke Vidaic said he had already seen some of his apprentice friends miss out on jobs most likely because of the increase in fees for their workplace qualifications such as gaining a white card.
“Most don’t really care what’s happening at the moment because their employers are able to pay, but some are worried and smaller companies have commented that the fees seem excessive,” he said.
“I think those ones that contract out will struggle this year.”