BUSINESS and community leaders are speaking out in support of Bendigo TAFE, underlining the importance of the institution to the region’s prosperity.
“You simply cannot be successful in this area without a ready supply of highly trained employees,” Herbert Hermens, chief executive officer of manufacturing, engineering and sales company, Keech, said.
“We recognise the value in having ready access to a regionally based, regionally focused training provider.”
Bendigo TAFE chief executive officer Maria Simpson called on the community to “vote with their feet” in response to the cost-cutting measures imposed this week by State Government funding reductions.
“We really need people to make sure they send their apprentices to us, make sure they send their young employees to us, and if they are studying themselves, to make a choice to come to us,” Ms Simpson said.
“The way we remain viable is to have good student numbers and high levels of delivery.”
Bendigo Business Council chief executive officer Patrick Falconer said Bendigo TAFE’s reputation for high quality course delivery should make it the training institution of choice.
“There has been an explosion in the increase of courses offered by other organisations,” he said.
“Bendigo maintains a high standard of education and would prefer to use TAFE, a trusted name in Bendigo.”
Mr Falconer stressed the need to maintain a strong TAFE to cope with planned growth in the city and region over the next 20 years.
“TAFE has been around in many forms for over 100 years and will be around for another 100 years,” he said.
“One of the main disadvantages in a regional city is attracting skilled labour to town.
“If we already have a trained workforce here it helps solve that shortage.”
Influential business and community leader Gordon McKern was a TAFE board member during the 1980s, at the time when Bendigo amalgamated with other campuses in the region.
“I can state, categorically, that every apprentice, every trainee, and every employer of them, should strongly insist on their training being done at, and by, our TAFE college, which
has a deservedly high reputation,” he said.
“This is even more important at this time, as the major hospital project will engage so many of our local skilled tradespeople that we need to train more and more to be able to maintain manpower for other projects.”
Mr Hermens, whose company has partnered Bendigo TAFE to create traineeships at their new Innovation and Quality Centre, called on industry and government to back the institution.
“A strong vocational sector needs strong industry to support it and lots of communication and collaboration to remain relevant in its course offerings and in its delivery methods.
“All levels of government must recognise the need for a strong regional VET sector, and support it accordingly.”