The first sod has been turned for the new TAFE facility to be constructed at the site of the old Bega District Hospital as part of the first stage of the project.
Assistant Minister for Skills Adam Marshall visited the location for the TAFE NSW regional Connected Learning Centre (CLC) on August 3 along with Member for Bega Andrew Constance.
Mr Constance said the development would see a “complete overhaul” of the way TAFE operated in the region.
“TAFE is the number one provider in our region when it comes to vocational opportunities,” he said.
“Our community will be shocked by the amount of opportunities that will stem from this building.”
Mr Marshall said it was a $7million investment in “the future of education in Bega” and it was one of 13 CLCs to be built across regional NSW. He said the first four centres opened so far had seen a 30 per cent increase in student numbers as well as a doubling of the number of courses able to be offered.
CLCs use digitally-enabled technologies, such as simulations and virtual reality experiences, to offer a wide range of choices for students.
Mr Marshall said the development in Bega would “supplement not supplant” the current TAFE campus in Bega and when the new centre opened the campus would continue to operate a number of courses.
But when questioned if the existing campus would close down in stage two of the plans, he said it was “most likely”, although it was yet to be determined. Mr Constance said hospitality would continue to be run at the campus due to the current facility already installed.
The CLC plans involve a new construction and not the existing buildings at the site of the former hospital. Mr Constance said “Health Infrastructure will need to dispose of their assets”.
Labor’s candidate for Bega Leanne Atkinson said she had “serious concerns” about the development of the CLC, such as there had been no proper consultation with people in the area who had knowledge and experience of the education sector.
She also questioned why the money for the CLC had not been spent on the existing TAFE campus, which could have been “refurbished and upgraded”.
Construction was estimated to finish in February and Mr Constance said students would be in the building by the end of 2019.