Certificate IV of the Blue Mountains TAFE guides course is likely to run next year but the course that used to precede it (Certificate III) may be in jeopardy.
Following a discussion with industry leaders on Monday, a revamped version of the Blue Mountains TAFE guides course will now be presented, and TAFE outdoor recreation teachers have until Monday to return to TAFE with options for the course’s future.
As we went to press, the Blue Mountains Gazette was still waiting for clearer answers from Western Sydney Institute of TAFE representatives about the progress from Certificate II to Certificate III and Certificate IV. But Certificate II - the TVET (vocational) program was never at risk, says TAFE.
Western Sydney Institute director Susan Hartigan said “contrary to rumours and speculation that Blue Mountains TAFE would cut outdoor recreation programs, a range of qualifications in outdoor recreation will continue to be offered at Blue Mountains TAFE”.
Ms Hartigan said some qualifications and skill sets would run on “a fee-for-service basis and others will be supported with government-subsidised funding”.
“The industry representatives present at today’s consultation identified additional skill requirements that would provide the necessary level of skills to meet the needs of the Blue Mountains and NSW Outdoor Recreation industry,” she said, and “outcomes of the industry consultation would be referred to Blue Mountains TAFE teaching staff for further consultation and review”.
Blue Mountains Adventure company spokesman Dylan Jones said industry members had been given a seat at the discussion table a little late and emphasised the need for a course that met the full safety needs of his profession.
“Any significant change to the funding of the Outdoor Recreation Certificate III and IV courses at WSI TAFE will have a negative impact on the outdoor recreation industry in NSW. We are a little disappointed that the conversation has been entered into at such a late stage but the take away message from the meeting is that there is still the possibility to run the valuable Cert III and IV skills areas required for industry.”
“The course was set up 15 years ago in response to a number of deaths . . . deaths in these activities still occur and as recently as two months ago, a young man died in a tragic abseiling incident in the Hills district of western Sydney. After this incident the state coroner highlighted the need for full training . . . to ensure tragedies like these can be avoided in future.”
When questioned about more specific outcomes from the meeting, raised by concerns from the industry to the Gazette, a TAFE spokesman said “following consultation with the Institute the industry believes the most appropriate entry-level qualification for outdoor recreation business is the Certificate IV in Outdoor Recreation. Pending consultation with teaching staff, it is proposed that the Certificate IV in Outdoor Recreation will be offered from the Institute’s core funding in 2013.”
Randall Walker, the chairman of Blue Mountains, Lithgow and Oberon Tourism, said he thought the meeting was a “positive engagement within industry and TAFE”.
“All businesses have to review performance and budget and it’s no surprise that a business, including TAFE, would conduct a periodic review. The bottom line is we’re still in discussions to achieve the outcomes that best suit the industry”.
Ms Hartigan said another outcome of the meeting was “a commitment to further industry consultations to facilitate the immediate and ongoing design of specialised skill sets at Blue Mountains TAFE”.
“Industry representatives (are) committed to working with WSI in identifying potential students and participating in flexible workplace delivery and assessment modes for the Outdoor Recreation programs”.
A meeting involving TAFE management and staff to consider final course offerings for 2013 has been arranged for late October, 2012.