Wednesday 14 November 2007

[2.36 p.m.]
Mr FINCH (Question) - Is the Leader aware of the unique and significant role played by Studentworks, formerly Launceston Student Workshop, in the following areas:  providing an environment where students whose skills may be manually based rather than academic can realise their strengths and develop them to their fullest potential, helping students to build a work ethic, offering a unique support system and dramatically improving the employment potential of students?  Secondly, is the Leader further aware of the difficulties posed by the lack of modern industry-relevant machinery and equipment and the lack of ongoing funding for the same in enabling Studentworks to most effectively fulfil these roles?

Mr PARKINSON - I thank the honourable member for his question.  The Department of Education funds the operational costs of Studentworks annually with a current 2007-08 allocation of $180 000.  Studentworks receives the balance of its income from a range of commercial ventures that enable it to value-add to the base funding.  Studentworks is managed by an independent board made up of educators, businesspeople, union and community members who determine strategic direction of the operation.  The State Government recognises the Studentworks model is enabling successful outcomes for a range of young people in northern Tasmania.

Studentworks is a longstanding program and has continued to provide a unique learning environment to the students who attend.  A range of northern schools, including rural schools such as St Marys and St Helens, have students attending Studentworks on a week-on week-off basis.  Students have the opportunity to work closely with business and industry to produce products at commercial standard.  This enables them to gain first-hand understanding of the needs of businesses and key workplace skills, including work ethics.

Whilst there is a range of providers of services for students that enable them to increase their vocational and work skills which would benefit from upgrading their capital base, many are finding creative solutions through partnering with industry and TAFE campuses throughout the State.  This is something that Studentworks could explore.  Also in this context we welcome the Federal ALP's commitment to providing opportunities for all Tasmanian students to participate in technical programs at their own high school, thus obviating the need to go off the school site to participate and gain these skills