While in Armidale for the opening of the new permanent exhibition of the Hinton Collection at the New England Regional Art Museum, I took the opportunity to visit the TAFE campus both to refresh memories and to look at the almost completed NSW TAFE (Technical and Further Education) Digital HQ building.
It was a warm Saturday morning, a sunny break in in an often rainy weekend. The walk was partially one of those sacred sites tours, a walk along the Creeklands from the the city looking at what had changed, trying to fit the landscape into my past memories. As we walked across the little suspension bridge outside the old swimming pool entrance towards the TAFE, I rocked the bridge to see if it would still swing. It did!
On Monday 26 March, the new building was officially opened. The Armidale Express carried the story. I will leave aside the puffery associated with official releases and focus on a few key issues.
The new centre is central to the plans to restructure the delivery of TAFE courses across NSW, increasing the use of on-line platforms. I have some reservations about elements of those plans, but the centre fits within TAFE NSW's strategic objectives.
I don't think that the centre could have been established in Armidale without the NBN. I have become increasingly disillusioned with former independent New England MP Tony Windsor because of what I see as an increasing rigidity, bias, in his views and responses on issues. However, his role in bringing the NBN to Armidale needs to be recognised. Without him, the new centre would not have been possible. We also need to recognise the work of Adam Marshall, the state member for the Northern Tablelands. He, too, was critical to the move.
As Mr Marshall noted in his press release, at 51 staff the number of jobs involved is not large by the standards of bigger centres. However, it makes an important addition to Armidale. As important as the number of jobs is, the variety in the jobs is more important. More important still is the way that those jobs mesh with Armidale's existing strengths.
Unlike the move of the APVMA (the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority) to Armidale, the creation of the TAFE Digital Hub appears to have attracted little political controversy. That's partly a matter of size, more the absence of vested interest and political responses that bedevil the APVMA move. It's interesting that TAFE appears to have experienced no significant recruitment problems, whereas those are a central issue in the APVMA move.
I have a part completed post updating the APVMA move. At this point, I simply note that it is hard to get people to move to Armidale, hard to recruit new people to Armidale, when you are told by senior Labor Party figures that the decision to Armidale will be reversed, that you either do not have to move or if you do come to Armidale, you will be forced to return to Canberra.
Postscript Monday 2 April 2018
The brief discussion on this post, more comments would be welcome, reminded me of an earlier post about our attempts to create a network between Armidale schools based on the new new computing and communications technologies: Dreams past: Collective Wisdom, education & the NBN.
On a different site, Robyn Archer pointed to this rather wonderful interview with Arthur C Clarke from 1974. Both Robyn and I are still waiting for the foreshadowed shift to the country!