TAFE has really come to town

By Charmayne Allison

IT may have ‘Bendigo’ in the title, but our local TAFE is all about Echuca.

Or so says Troy Robbins.

The Bendigo TAFE Regional Stakeholder Relations and Communications manager said many locals were unaware of all that was on offer at the local campus.

But he wants to set the record straight.

‘‘We’ve spent close to $1 million throughout the past year in campus upgrades and new courses in Echuca,’’ he said.

‘‘We’re keen to tell people all the campus is doing. Sadly many people seem to think we’re moving Echuca resources to Bendigo, but we’re actually doing the opposite — more programs are being transferred from Bendigo to here.’’

These include a spread of free courses available for eligible students in the New Year, now open for enrolments.

Building and construction, plumbing, engineering, electrical, community services, disability services and hospitality are among the industry areas covered.

The campus now also offers a skills and job centre which aims to support locals looking for training or considering a career change or employment — from students and apprentices to trainees and job-seekers.

‘‘This is for those people who are saying, ‘I don’t know what to do, I don’t know about the different jobs out there’,’’ Mr Robbins said.

‘‘It’s less about finding a TAFE course and more about finding the job or career you might like to move into.’’

And for early school leavers and the long-term unemployed, a vital program called Reconnect is on offer.

Open to locals aged 17-64, the program provides support to those looking to overcome the barriers they face to re-engage and succeed in education and training.

Parents or young mums returning to work, Indigenous Australians, people with disability, poor literacy and numeracy or highly marginalised groups are also encouraged to enquire about the program.

‘‘The whole aim is to break down barriers of why education never worked and get these people back into it,’’ Echuca campus Reconnect case manager Farran Hayes said.

‘‘Limited resources available in small towns is one of the major barriers we hear about so it’s just a matter of going out and finding out what’s available for people here.’’

The Echuca campus is also offering indigenous cultural awareness training, with a cultural arts program now available to indigenous students.

‘‘It just starts the conversation about education and encourages indigenous students to become engaged and look into career pathways for the future,’’ Mr Robbins said.

These are just some in a long list of services and courses at the Echuca campus — but Mr Robbins said there is always room to improve.

‘‘What we do is demand driven, so if you think we should be doing something more or something else, we want to hear from you,’’ he said.

‘‘This is about us being a part of the community and listening to the needs of the community.’’

For more information on any of these services, call 5483 1334.