03/12/2008 - 22:00

Image overhaul for Tafe colleges

03/12/2008 - 22:00

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WESTERN Australia's training system is about to go through a facelift in response to the current industry needs.

Image overhaul for Tafe colleges

WESTERN Australia's training system is about to go through a facelift in response to the current industry needs.

Training Minister Peter Collier has announced a renewed push to improve the image of Tafe colleges and its attractiveness for school leavers to respond to the skills shortage.

"By early next year I want significant changes to be made to the Tafe system because right now, it is sitting in a precarious position," Mr Collier told WA Business News.

This followed the re-introduction of changes to the state's training laws to parliament after it lapsed when the election was called.

The bill is aimed at streamlining the Vocational Education Training system.

The amendments will update the VET Act 1996 and replace the Industrial Training Act 1975, the latter being the oldest legislation governing apprenticeships in Australia.

Mr Colliers said while higher education tended to focus on preparing students for university, only a minor portion of school leavers end up taking that option.

"As far as training is concerned we do have a skills shortage and the education for too long has focused on preparing students for academic education and there has been a stigma attached to Tafe," Mr Collier said.

Mr Collier believes Tafe colleges have suffered from being looked at as an unattractive option and therefore accentuated WA's skills shortage.

He said there was work to be done at the high school level to educate students to the opportunities offered by Tafe colleges as well as improving their access to training.

"I would really like to see higher education embrace all sectors [university and training opportunities] and make them equally significant," Mr Collier said.

"I want every student in Western Australia who wants to pursue training to be given that opportunity...rural and remote areas are often restricted in the courses they can do," he said.

The minister said he was also looking at making significant changes to the Tafe sector, re-positioning and re-branding of colleges to create centres of excellence.

He announced the appointment of six new members to the State Training Board, which is chaired by Skills Australia board member, Keith Spence.

The new members include Susan Gordon from the Northern Territory Emergency Response Taskforce, former executive director of the Association of Independent Schools of WA Audrey Jackson, Jane McMeikan from Curtin University of Technology, Geoff Wrigley from Employment and Workplace Relations and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Simone McGurk from Unions WA and past president of Master Builders Association of WA Steven Peck.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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