Campus pulled back from the brink
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 125 No 6, 14 August 2020, page no.21
The commitment and solidarity of QTU members at the TAFE Queensland SkillsTech (TQST) Alexandra Hills Training Centre has helped rescue their campus from the brink of extinction.
In 2014, the Newman LNP state government’s VET reforms saw the Alexandra Hills Campus partly taken over by private provider Careers Australia and restrictions on the number of students the TAFE side could take. The result was a fall in student numbers and a drop in the quality of teaching/training. By the beginning of 2015 student numbers were below 100 and there were just three teachers.
Fortunately, in January 2015, the Palaszczuk ALP government came to power. The following month, local member Don Brown visited the college and discussed the restrictions on student numbers imposed by the LNP and the loss of building spaces. The restriction of student numbers was lifted immediately and the repairs to the by-then badly maintained buildings began.
There was an immediate increase in student numbers to 300, and by the beginning of March, teacher numbers had risen to five. Those numbers increased again in July and have done each year since that date. The massive increase in numbers since 2015 has seen the Alexandra Hills campus grow at an unprecedented rate, with a teacher numbers now at 13, as well as three administration staff.
In 2017, the Palaszczuk government announced that $10 million would be spent at the Alexandra Campus to rejuvenate the campus’ trade training facilities. The old sports centre is being transformed into a state-of-the-art plumbing workshop and the workshops in the ID and IE blocks are being totally refurbished to cater for automotive, engineering, furnishings, construction and electrical trade training. These works will allow the campus to train more school students and undertake first year apprentice training in specific trade areas.
The new facilities will also allow the Alexandra Hills Campus to train overflow students from other TQST campuses experiencing high training demand. This combined approach will give a better training experience to both students and businesses, with an overall increase in client satisfaction for TQST as an organisation.
The Redlands area has a very high number of private training providers, but the Alexandra Hills Training Centre aims to attract these apprentices back to TAFE Queensland and give these students and employers a choice of training provider.
The staff at TQST Alexandra Hills Campus have engaged with the local community by organising industry nights, participating in the Redlands Youth Day Out, working with the local emergency services, and helping and engaging with local disadvantaged groups and organisations like TradeMutt (pictured), which helps tradies and apprentices with mental health issues and counselling.
The teachers and the administration staff at the Alexandra Hills Campus have achieved this through strong union membership and support from the local members Don Brown and Kim Richards, and the Queensland Government. The staff at Alexandra Hills has just achieved 100 per cent QTU membership, and all of the administration team have joined the Together Union.