Are women the losers?
COULD the big losers from Mackay's new $46m TAFE Trade Training Centre be Rockhampton women looking to break into the workforce?
Queensland Teachers Union TAFE organiser Paul Reardon certainly thinks so and paints a bleak job picture for Rocky's fairer sex.
Mr Reardon said a cash-strapped government and education department were putting all efforts into getting tradespeople skilled up for when the economy kicked in again and that wasn't good for Rockhampton women wanting to do non-trade courses.
Mr Reardon claimed TAFE policy makers wanted to stop the future running of certificate II and III courses and make Certificate IV and higher courses more commercially viable in non-trade areas, such as beauty therapy and arts - a point rejected by CQ TAFE management.
He said Rockhampton's second chance education programs had already been progressively dropped in recent years and with non-trade courses traditionally being dominated by female students, the future wasn't promising for them.
Last month after it was revealed some CQ TAFE courses had their teaching hours drastically cut back, Mr Reardon aired concerns about a move to incorporate CQ TAFE into a regional Queensland statutory authority with other TAFE in Cairns, Townsville, Toowoomba, Wide Bay and Mt Isa.
TAFE did not deny this claim.
“You guys (Rockhampton) are in trouble,” said Mr Reardon, whose union has been involved in a fight with the government for a better pay deal in recent months.
He said the problem was the TAFE system was well behind the eight ball after being wound down and the funding was little more than playing catch-up.
“The government has no money and they are trying to skimp with the dollars,” Mr Reardon said.
“Trade is the basis of the economy and the focus is on that.”
CQ TAFE Institute director Steve Mathieson denied the claim that CQ TAFE would only be focussing on trade training in the future.
Mr Mathieson gave an assurance Certificate II and III programs would continue to be offered.
“Our client base consists of jobseekers, school-based students and those currently in the workforce wanting to advance their existing skills,” Mr Mathieson said.
“Recently our clients have been demanding training in higher level certificates or diplomas in areas such as nursing, community services, childcare, aged care, disability care and management.
“This is largely because of the success of our school programs at the Certificate II and III level.”
He said the shift had also been driven by demand from local industry.
“At the Rockhampton campus, planned training hours for Certificate III and below have increased by 8% since last financial year.
“Vacancies still exist in a range of Certificate II and III programs and we encourage prospective students to contact us about enrolment.”
He said while apprentices were trained locally, from time to time they were required to travel to specialist sites.
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