A $3 million investment in courses at Gunnedah TAFE will help to address the town’s skills shortage.
Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson announced the funding on Monday, and said it would help the TAFE to expand specialist trade workshops, provide new specialist trade and Information and Communications Technology (ICT) equipment, and refurbish generalist learning spaces.
Gunnedah Chamber of Commerce has long-advocated for the need to address the skills shortage so the funding was welcome news to vice-president Michael Broekman.
“It helps to fill those skill gaps,” Mr Broekman said.
“If we can train our local students to meet the needs of business, and we can do that in our local community, it’s wonderful news.
“The chamber will be pushing hard for businesses to look at their training needs and make sure they adapt to suit what can be delivered in Gunnedah.”
Gunnedah mayor Jamie Chaffey said more courses meant more options for young people.
“If [year 12 students] are not particularly suited to go onto tertiary education, they can come in and do a pre-apprenticeship [or] apprenticeship course here in Gunnedah,” he said.
“They’ll be able to be in their own bed, their own home and have that support from their family as they’re starting their new career in an apprenticeship course.”
Councillor Chaffey also said the investment would also mean the return of some courses.
“Starting next month, boilermaker courses will be run back in Gunnedah,” Cr Chaffey said.
“It’s been a number of years since you’ve been able to do a trade-qualified course as a boilermaker here at this campus.”
Mr Broekman said it was important for the community to support its TAFE so that it could continue to provide courses now and into the future.
“It’s going to be so important that we utilise these facilities ... to make sure we have [them] for the next generation,” he said.
Building works are expected to begin mid-2019 and be open for students by the first day of classes in 2020.