By Bonny Burrows
Aspiring farmers can breathe a sigh of relief; local students affected by the recent axing of Goulburn Ovens Institute of TAFE (GOTAFE)’s dairy training operations will be able to complete their studies.
Federation Training announced on 14 February that it will offer dairy industry training programs in Gippsland and confirmed anyone who had been enrolled in GOTAFE courses in 2018 would be able to finish their studies with the organisation.
Local students were left in limbo in January after GOTAFE decided to cease its Warragul and Leongatha based cease dairy training operations to focus on north eastern Victoria.
The move followed Dairy Australia’s (DA) decision to change its vocational education system, the National Centre for Dairy Education, in favour of a new model called Dairy Learn at the end of last year.
At the time of its decision to axe local training, a GOTAFE spokesperson said the move would “allow local TAFEs and training providers in Gippsland and south west Victoria an opportunity to service and support the dairy industry in these regions”.
The move, which students said came without warning, drew criticism from local MPs, who argued the decision placed greater uncertainty on an already fragile industry.
“The loss of this training from Warragul and Leongatha is a big blow to our region given the significant number of dairy farms located here and the job opportunities they provide”, Narracan MP Gary Blackwood said last month.
“Young dairy farmers I speak to continue to impress on me the importance of educating themselves not just through practical on-farm work but also by complementing their learning with a TAFE course.”
Federation Training’s executive director of strategic engagement, Tim Weight, said the institute had the infrastructure and processes in place to offer a seamless transition for students presently enrolled in GOTAFE courses.
“We are delighted that Federation Training is helping to honour the original commitment to these existing agricultural and dairy students to enable them to complete their studies,” Mr Weight said.
“Federation Training is the local TAFE; we are fully committed to Gippsland and we are very keen to work with our agriculture and dairy industry connections to identify the future student training needs in the region.”
Longwarry dairy farmer and chair of the Dairy Industry People Development Council John Versteden said the announcement was good news for the local dairy industry.
“Like every dairy region, Gippsland has its own unique challenges and opportunities and having a stronger local training network will mean our local dairy industry is better skilled to meet those challenges,” Mr Versteden said.
GippsDairy regional manager Allan Cameron said GippsDairy and Dairy Australia were working with other Gippsland training organisations to further bolster the training options available to locals working in dairy.