Push for Byford TAFE

Push for Byford TAFE

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“The start of training at the new Armadale TAFE campus is imminent,” the state government told the Examiner yesterday.

The new Armadale TAFE campus is on the precipice of opening for business, the state government confirmed yesterday.

But with that ribbon-cutting looming, the Shire of Serpentine Jarrahdale has renewed its resolve to have one built in Byford.

There is a whiff of Shannon Noll-esque ‘What about me’-ism in the push for a Byford TAFE.

The Byford TAFE Feasibility Study was commissioned in July 2020 just as member for Armadale Tony Buti was ramping up his push for a new Armadale campus – after a decade of lobbying. A campaign which bore fruit just two weeks later.

And some community members have questioned the need for one in Byford, which will quite literally be one station down the line from the Armadale campus when the extension opens next year (fingers crossed).

But shire president Rob Coales, who met with Minister for Training and Workforce Development Simone McGurk last week to advocate for the new TAFE, is adamant that the shire needs one too.

“It is not redundant to build a TAFE in Byford,” he said.

“The shire is experiencing rapid growth, which is not comparable to other areas of Perth and the Peel region. Our population is expected to double by 2028 and quadruple by 2050.

“It is not likely that a TAFE in Armadale alone would have the capacity to deal with the shire’s rapid population growth or be diverse enough in course structure to fulfill its needs.”

He also pointed out that the City of Armadale is predicted to balloon by 30,000 new residents over the coming decade, ‘depleting the capacity of the new campus’.

The state government echoed the president’s sentiments when we asked the minister if another TAFE 8km down the road was warranted.

“The State Government is investing $250 million in new and upgraded state-wide TAFE infrastructure, including in the metropolitan area,” the spokesperson said.

“The priority for new metropolitan campuses is in growth corridor areas, with a particular emphasis on proximity to public transportation, especially Metronet train stations.”

And that is precisely where the new TAFE is proposed to be built.

“The Byford TAFE Feasibility Study has identified a site close to the new Byford station in Byford town centre. Locating the Byford TAFE on this site would generate public transport trips to Byford, provide vibrancy to the town centre and enable economic development,” president Coales said.

“Ease of access would also make the location a drawcard for potential students attending from other metropolitan areas.”

One particular point of differentiation between the two TAFEs would be the training on offer, according to the shire.

“The Armadale TAFE campus is primarily focussed on courses such as community services and education support and does not offer trades courses,” Mr Coales said.

“This is potentially an issue for the shire as a lack of vocational courses, for example construction trades, could lead to lower education participation as the population of the shire continues to grow.

“As other areas of the shire such as Whitby and Mundijong continue to experience rapid growth as predicted, this problem could exacerbate.

“The shire also considers specialisation in agri-business and related skill areas to align to broader economic diversification in the region.”

The nearby Kwinana campus offers automotive industry training, and the Rockingham TAFE specialises in plumbing and gas, fabrication and engineering.

But president Coales said the shire is determined to make the Byford TAFE a reality: “We look forward to continuing to advocate on this important project for the benefit of our young people and the wider community.”