The Australian | 17 November 2012
The positions of 114 Riverina Institute staff will disappear after the Defence Department cancelled the TAFE’s long-running contract to run the National Aerospace Training Centre of Excellence at Wagga Wagga RAAF base.
NATCOE graduates about 1000 students a year in engineering and other aeronautics-related trades. A NSW Department of Education spokesman said it had been the largest commercial training contract of its kind and “an exemplar of commercial contract management, delivery and customer focus”.
A Defence Department spokeswoman said the contract would expire in December “with a phase-out through until early April”.
She wouldn’t identify the new contractor but said it had offered “the best value for money and training outcome for Defence” although she acknowledged Riverina Institute has “provided excellent service to the Australian Defence Force since 1994”.
An open tender process had been designed around “an affordable, contemporary, flexible and high quality aviation technical training system that offers the successful tenderer greater autonomy and responsibility for the aviation technical training outcome”.
NSW Teachers Federation president Maurie Mulheron said the contract’s loss threatened the financial viability of the Riverina Institute as it was” essentially their income stream”, which has 20 campuses including five in the Murrumbidgee electorate of Education Minister Adrian Piccoli.
The institute has 20 campuses stretching from Tumut near Canberra to Dareton near Mildura, including five in NSW education minister Andrew Piccoli’s electorate of Murrumbidgee.
The Australian Education Union TAFE secretary Pat Forward.saiy TAFE job losses across the country, especially in the eastern states, would remove “hundreds of years of experience and expertise” from a TAFE system which had been “the envy of the world”.
“For each teaching position lost there is a commensurate loss of capacity in the system which will weaken it, threatening the viability of regional TAFEs. The flow-on effect in communities across these states – particularly those struggling with high youth unemployment and economic downturn – will be devastating.”