NSW Labor demand answers as TAFE course cut in Coffs Harbour


A WAR of words has broken out over the loss of the bricklaying and floor tiling course at Coffs Harbour TAFE.

NSW Labor is demanding the Government explain why there are cuts to TAFE jobs across the state and removal of courses like bricklaying and tiling locally, in the middle of a skills shortage and housing boom.

The termination of the bricklaying and tiling course at the Coffs Harbour TAFE campus results in there being no TAFE course covering the trade between Newcastle and the Queensland border.

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Adam Curlis, TAFE Teachers Secretary, said that the cuts come on top of the earlier closure of courses at Kingscliff and Wollongbar TAFEs.

Tony Judge, Labor spokesperson for Coffs Harbour, is alarmed at the loss of opportunities for young people in an area that is already suffering high youth unemployment.

“Where are the employment opportunities going to come from for our young people?”

Mr Judge said if young people wanted to work in a trade for which they cannot get training in Coffs Harbour, they would have to reolcate to the city.

He said this puts incredible strain on their families, both through their absence and the need to financially support them away from home, resulting in many young people just giving up and missing out entirely on the opportunity of a trade career.

Member for Coffs Harbour, Gurmesh Singh, said the courses were cut because there were less than ten young people enrolled in the course at Coffs Harbour TAFE.

“If interest increases in those courses they will be offered again,” he said.

The NSW government says that “in-demand” qualifications in areas such as carpentry, construction, plumbing, and water operations can be expanded, and a brand-new Multi Trades Hub at Coffs Harbour will enable TAFE NSW to train an additional 700 apprentices each year.

Mr Judge and Mr Curlis claim that employers have also voiced their concerns over the cutting of the course, and cited an apprentice in Coffs Harbour who is forced to leave home at 3am to travel to Newcastle to attend a bricklaying course.

They said there are currently 27 apprentices in bricklaying courses on the mid-North and Far North coast and, with no TAFE courses north of Newcastle, employers are concerned that they will be forced to stop hiring apprentices.


By Andrew VIVIAN

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