The $4.76 million TAFE Connected Learning Centre (CLC) LC at Nrrandera was officially opened by the Managing Director of TAFE NSW John Black on Friday.
NSW Minister for Tourism and Major Events and the Assistant Minister for Skills, Adam Marshall was at the opening, as was the Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke. A Welcome to Country was given by Uncle Hank Lyons.
“It’s great to be here as the managing director to mark this significant milestone in our modernisation journey,” Mr Black said.
“I think we’d appreciate that the investments we’re making would only be possible with the support of the government, and I’d like to sincerely thank the minister for his ongoing support and absolute advocacy for TAFE and the difference that TAFE makes to address the skills shortages in our state.”
The Narrandera CLC is the sixth of a projected 13 to open in NSW. So far the other CLCs are in Deniliquin, which was opened in the last fortnight, Tenterfield, Glenn Innes, Quirindi and Coonabarabran. Another two facilities in Grenfell and Corowa are nearing completion.
These CLCs allow for students to connect with the 140 TAFE campuses across NSW. This means that TAFE Narrandera is already able to offer more courses, as students can be beamed in to courses being taught on othercampuses.
Additionally, the CLCs provide opportunities for practical learning through mobile training units, which enable students to put their skills to use.
“Concurrently with this investment is our investment in what we call TAFE digital. TAFE digital is providing digital courses, but more particularly is invested in developing very advanced digital content for our courses,” Mr Black explained.
“When I talk about advanced content, I’m talking about augmented reality, virtual reality. That’s the kind of technology that we can bring to bear that provides the opportunity for students to learn techniques and procedures in a safe environment.”
Narrandera Shire Mayor Neville Kschenka attended the opening, along with General Manager George Cowan and other councillors.
“A couple of years ago we thought we might actually lose the facility altogether,” Cr Kschenka said.
“I appreciate all the staff and the general manager at the time who put in a submission and now we’ve come to this. It’s good to see industry people here as well who will be here to support some of those students who can hopefully stay in town,” Cr Kschenka said.
Regional General Manager Kerry Penton was also at Narrandera on Friday for the official opening.
“It’s really exciting for this community, and really exciting for TAFE NSW,” Ms Penton explained.
“This facility gives us the opportunity to bring more courses to the people of Narrandera and also to the district as well. So people can learn and live where they are and to mitigate all that travel that people used to have to do.” The difficulties of travelling for an education were highlighted by Ms Cooke.
“I studied Certificate IV and my Diploma of Floristry through TAFE,” Ms Cooke explained.
“Living in Young, I travelled to Padstow in Sydney every Wednesday for two years in order to get that done. That was a huge commitment on my part and it took a great toll on my family and my friends, knowing that I was undertaking that weekly journey.”
“To think that we now have facilities such as this, based right here in small communities, where people don’t have to undertake any of that sort of travel, to me speaks volumes. It demonstrates the commitment that this government has to small communities and to education and to the skills space. It really means that people will be able to invest in their own education.”
“We all know that education is a lifelong journey. Whatever you choose to do, there’s always something further that you can go on and do. It really means that people can develop their own careers even further,” Ms Cooke said.
Mr Marshall highlighted the possibilities for economic development that could come with more local training opportunities.
“We need to really skill the workforce that’ll be required for today and tomorrow. Jobs are being created right now; we’ve got inland rail and other big projects on the boil.
“It’s going to be hugely advantageous to have a skilled workforce locally and to boost the economic benefits of those projects rather than see people from outside of the region come in to undertake that work.
“And that’s where TAFE plays a critical role in actually meeting that skills need now and what will be anticipated,” Mr Marshall said.