TAFE chief says the worst is over

AFTER a tumultuous 18 months of cuts and pain South West TAFE leaders are confident 2014 will be a time for healing and growth.

Chief executive Peter Heilbuth is predicting enrolments to stabilise at about 12,000 and staff numbers to level out to about 400, with an operating budget of $30 million.

“Our plan is to start positively next year and grow again under a new structure,” Mr Heilbuth said.

“We’ve made the tough decisions this year and remain the region’s largest public education provider.”

He estimated staff numbers were about 20 per cent below the 2012 peak before a major restructure of the TAFE system was ordered by the state government to trim costs and operate more efficiently under the same funding regime as private training organisations.

Mr Heilbuth said the final downsizing announced late this year involved closure of the Glenormiston rural studies campus and the Warrnambool canteen, while a departmental restructure was about 90 per cent complete.

The Standard understands about 15 staff lost their jobs in the latest cost-cutting moves.

In the first quarter of next year Mr Heilbuth hopes government funding will be released to phase in streamlined customer service, updated business software and new learning technology.

More video conferencing lectures are also expected through faster broadband speeds via links with a new fibre-optic cable along the Warrnambool-Geelong rail line.

“Our aim is to end up with similar student numbers to this year,” he said.

“Our numbers for 2013 were about 12,000 which was similar to 2012.”

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