Sunshine Coast TAFE’s Ross Hepworth outside the new and old TAFE buildings.
Sunshine Coast TAFE’s Ross Hepworth outside the new and old TAFE buildings. Nicholas Falconer

Axed one day, back the next

THE MINISTER for Employment has intervened to save the jobs of up to 15 construction lecturers at Sunshine Coast Institute of Tafe.

After being alerted to the sackings by the Daily yesterday, Stirling Hinchliffe told the Director General to take action to "fix" the unacceptable situation.

The move will prevent between 150 and 200 students undertaking trade-related apprenticeships from being forced to travel to Brisbane or seek out private placements.

Under the guise of "centralising services" and "reduced course demand", Sunshine Coast Tafe delivered the news on Wednesday to lecturers of painting, bricklaying, tiling and solid plastering that their jobs would not exist after December 31.

The only remaining construction courses would have been in plumbing, carpentry and cabinet making courses.

A lecturer, who did want to be named, said the redundancies had come as a shock.

"A lot of students would have been left in the lurch," he said.

"Trade-based apprenticeships provide students with an alternative education choice and a reason to stay in school."

Upon hearing of the Minister stepping in late yesterday, the lecturer said he was amazed.

"It is what the apprentices deserve," he said.

Masters Builders had expressed concern about the job losses.

"It reflects a horror three years in the construction industry," director of construction John Crittall said.

"Hundreds of tradies got laid off and businesses were not in the position to take on apprentices."

Mr Crittall said he understood there had been a 30% reduction of students undertaking trade-related apprenticeships.

The Daily's questions to Sunshine Coast Tafe institute director Ross Hepworth were passed on to Education Queensland were the Minister was alerted to the situation.

Mr Hinchliffe said the State Government had just held a successful Work for Queensland jobs expo on the Sunshine Coast.

"The expo has strengthened our resolve to work side by side with industry, employers and training organisations such as our Tafes to ensure we deliver the work skills the construction and resources industries need now and in the future.

"Our own Skills Queensland will spearhead the drive - tap into and target jobseekers in areas of higher unemployment, particularly on the Sunshine Coast."

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