Thursday 15 November 2007
SPECIAL INTEREST MATTERS
Mr FINCH (Rosevears) -The phrase 'the politics of envy' is usually used in a derogatory way but the attitude can also evoke sympathy, as I hope to demonstrate. Last week I attended the formal opening of a $1.4 million metal trades centre at TAFE's Launceston Alanvale campus. The Chief Executive, Malcolm White, explained how the investment would benefit about 250 Launceston students each year as well as older workers who are being re-skilled. This is an appropriate initiative, Mr President, as it is obvious Australia faces a shortage of skilled workers. You cannot train people in modern skills without modern equipment and the TAFE initiative is to be commended even in the sceptical atmosphere of a Federal campaign.
Also attending the formal opening was a group of students and instructors from another student training establishment, Studentworks in Rocherlea, formerly known as the Launceston Student Workshop. It has been working to train young people with disabilities for 30 years. It trains students from all of the 63 telephone area, including my electorate and also from the north-west. The current enrolment of 30 students is limited by funding. Most of the equipment in use at Studentworks was bought or donated 30 years ago. Some items were pre-world war vintage, I think World War II, some might suspect World War I when you have a look at it. So you can imagine the envious looks from the Studentworks entourage when they saw almost $1.5 million of the latest metal trades equipment at TAFE, Mr President. The 'politics of envy', but a very understandable envy.
I am not saying that 30 students at Studentworks should have the same funding as 250 or more at TAFE but it did seem to me at first that they had been overlooked. It would not take a great deal to improve their morale, to pre-empt future looks at political envy and equip them better for the workplace that they must participate in to maintain their dignity and their place in society. Courses now available at Launceston Studentworks include engineering, metalwork, furniture making and woodwork, hospitality, catering and kitchen operations;, retail, reception and warehousing. They are all skills increasingly needed as our local economy grows. This is obviously recognised by the State Department of Education which contributes $180 000 a year. However, Mr President, it is still left to the Studentworks board to find income from a range of commercial ventures.
While the State Government says it recognises the Studentworks model is enabling successful outcomes for a range of young people in northern Tasmania, it suggests closer cooperation with business and industry and with the TAFE system. This makes considerable sense. I suggest that the State Government, through the Education department, might consider facilitating any opportunities for closer cooperation through the board of Studentworks. Students are expected to participate in all of the mentioned subjects in their first year but are permitted to specialise in a single area in year 2.
Launceston Studentworks has achieved recognition for excellence over the years from government, industry and both local and national organisations. It was nominated in 1994 for the Prime Minister's Employer of the Year Award. It received the State Award for Educational Excellence in 2002. It was the winner of the CGU 2005 Business Excellence Award in the category of Community Enterprise and also in 2005 Studentworks was nominated for an Award for Excellence in School Improvement. There is some recognition for Studentworks, Mr President.
All those students need now is modern equipment with which to better learn our community needs and to have the skills to support those needs.