Esperance TAFE enrolments rise following lower fees initiative

Local opportunities: Regional campus manager Amelia Fitzgerald and aged care lecturer Gabrielle West. Photo: Sarah Makse.
Local opportunities: Regional campus manager Amelia Fitzgerald and aged care lecturer Gabrielle West. Photo: Sarah Makse.

The South Regional TAFE Esperance campus has seen an increase in student enrolments this year, following the introduction of a state wide initiative to half the fees of priority courses.

The 'Lower fees, Local skills' initiative unveiled in October 2019, announced a 50 per cent reduction in fee costs for 34 priority courses across all TAFE campuses.

According to the state government, early enrolment data for the first year of the initiative has shown a 20 per cent increase in student enrolments across all five TAFE campuses.

Esperance TAFE offers five courses under the program including early childhood education, individual support, engineering fabrication, heavy commercial and light vehicle mechanical technology.

Regional campus manager Amelia Fitzgerald said this year the campus had seen a 'marked increase' in uptake of the campus' new aged care course since the introduction of reduced fees.

"Enrolments are still being taken for the course, which starts on March 3. In addition to the part-time course, the campus is now considering structuring a flexible delivery option to answer the greater demand," she said.

Crafting skills: Jatek engineering apprentice Ryan Bodenham, lecturer Richard Lombardi and LJS Mobile Engineering apprentice Kye Mantach. Photo: Sarah Makse.

Crafting skills: Jatek engineering apprentice Ryan Bodenham, lecturer Richard Lombardi and LJS Mobile Engineering apprentice Kye Mantach. Photo: Sarah Makse.

"It makes training accessible for those priority industries, we know our population is aging so it is about training adequate support workers now.

"It's about making sure the skilled workers are there when the industries require them.

"We've also had a lot of feedback that we need to look at the disability stream so we can offer that training for our disability support workers as well."

Ms Fitzgerald said the campus had been working closely with local industry to fill courses that fit demand to create long term opportunities for students.

"Not everyone has the means to go away to study, so options to access training in our community should be a priority because it is what keeps locals employed and living in Esperance or attracting new people to our community," she said.

Aged care lecturer Gabrielle West said the course focused on communication and independence in the home and in aged care facilities.

"I think it is so important that people learn to love what they do and learn the respect for people that they are looking after and realise that they have had a past and this is just the next stage of their lives," she said.

Construction on the new $18 million Esperance TAFE campus is expected to begin this year.