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Wednesday, 30 October 1996
Page: 6211

Mr MOSSFIELD(7.49 p.m.) —I am pleased to talk in this adjournment debate about the work of the Blacktown Chamber of Commerce and Industry Workplace Learning Committee. This committee was set up in 1994 to support a number of vocational training courses in several schools in western Sydney. These courses include TRAC automotive and content endorsed courses in retail. The committee consists of representatives from the Labour Council of New South Wales, the Blacktown Chamber of Commerce and Industry, DEETYA, TAFE, state and Catholic school systems, as well as community and industry representatives.

These vocational programs form part of the curriculum for years 11 and 12, and allow students to complete their higher school certificate and, at the same time, get hands-on experience in industry and commerce. In years 11 and 12 it is necessary to move away from the relatively unstructured subject courses that apply in earlier years to structured student training and pathways. Schools then have the opportunity to develop these structured programs that are then linked to particular industries. These programs require substantial learning and assessment to occur at the workplace, for which students receive school accreditation and industry recognition.

The committee's role has been to ensure that industry understands and implements the principles of workplace training as distinct from work experience, and that students understand the relevance and requirements of vocational courses. During the two years that the workplace committee has been functioning, these programs have seen a building of bridges between the classroom and the workplace and have resulted in the young people involved being better prepared for the world of work.

The committee has liaised closely with industry to ensure quality of training. Strong links have been developed between the Chamber of Commerce and Industry and local schools. Two successful award nights have been organised and were attended by the then Minister for Vocational Education and Training in 1994 and the Director-General of New South Wales TAFE in 1995. The attendance of such senior people in the field of vocational education has delighted the students and given the committee the encouragement to continue its work.

Over the two-year period that the workplace committee has been operating, vocational education has grown considerably in the schools concerned. Excellent links have been developed with the business community and a database has been developed to further assist student placements for work based training. Funding was obtained from the ASTF and teacher-in-business programs to employ a teacher for a five-month period to develop stronger links with the workplace. This program also provided training to those workplaces on the procedures and requirements for certification of vocational courses, and liaison with schools and industry to broaden and strengthen the program.

Currently, there are 90 students doing vocational courses in building and construction, retail, furnishing and hospitality. The program for 1997 is to further increase the number of students in vocational placements and to provide a service to other schools in the area that will be able to benefit from the experience gained by the workplace committee over its two years in operation.

The committee will offer six separate vocational courses in 1997—TRAC auto, CEC retail, CEC furnishing, CEC hospitality and catering, office administration and building and construction. Deidre Matthews, a teacher from Loyola College at Mount Druitt, and Bob Dunn, a teacher previously from Seven Hills High and now Colyton High, have been the driving force behind the formation of this committee.

I congratulate them both and the committee in general for the work they are doing in getting students in western Sydney ready for employment and wish the committee well for the future. I am pleased to have been a formation committee member of this group and will watch its progress with interest.