MEMBER for Monaro John Barilaro has rejected the assertion Cooma TAFE faces an uncertain future once the NSW Government's 'Smart and Skilled' policy comes into effect from the start of 2015.
A recent community forum facilitated by the NSW Teachers Federation heard from TAFE representatives who warned the Cooma campus could come under threat due to course cuts and increases in student fees. There were also concerns the campus may be forced to close once the vocational education reforms are implemented next year.
Mr Barilaro believes Cooma TAFE will still be the focal point for vocational education and training in Cooma once the policy is implemented.
"The NSW Government is investing $4.5 million to upgrade the carpentry and joinery workshop at Cooma TAFE, we wouldn't be investing into this project if we didn't believe that Cooma TAFE will go from strength to strength under this reform," Mr Barilaro said.
"TAFE NSW is and will continue to be the backbone of skills training in NSW.
"These reforms will enable TAFE institutes to become more locally responsive, flexible and autonomous."
Mr Barilaro also dismissed claims from the NSW Teachers Federation that the reforms will reduce the quality of training provided to students undertaking vocational courses in the region.
"I have every confidence that the NSW Government's 'Smart and Skilled' reform will improve the standard of vocational education and training across the Monaro," he said.
"The initiative is designed to increase choice for students and employers and build a more skilled workforce to support the NSW economy.
"People will be given the skills they need to get a job and advance their careers. It will give NSW the skills it needs for jobs now and in the future."
Under the 'Smart and Skilled' policy, businesses outside the TAFE sector will be able to provide vocational training to students, a move Mr Barilaro believes will improve the training system.
"This will make it easier for people to take up training, giving them more choice over training and the training organisation that best meets their needs," Mr Barilaro said.
"Reforms have been informed by extensive consultation with industry and the broader vocational education training community.
"We have listened to valuable feedback to develop a reform package that balances the interests of individuals, businesses and industry."