LOCAL students will now have access to a greater range of learning and course options on their doorstep with the new state-of-the-art TAFE NSW Scone Connected Learning Centre (CLC) opening today.
Upper Hunter MP Michael Johnsen joined Minister for Skills and Tertiary Education Geoff Lee to officially open the multi-million dollar facility on Main Street, Scone alongside representatives from TAFE NSW, Upper Hunter Shire Council and the local community.
Construction began in February on the $6.5 million project which is the third CLC to open in the Upper Hunter electorate, with the first in Quirindi and the second in Singleton.
The Scone CLC will offer a range of new courses, such as the Certificate IV in Ageing Support, a Statement in Barista Coffee Preparation and the Diploma of Conservation and Land Management.
Mr Johnsen said it was a "dream come true" for many people over many years to be able to deliver such modern facilities and open up opportunities for people in the local area and wider region.
"It may be called a Connected Learning Centre predominately through technology but the word connected, I think, means more to the community," he said.
"People themselves are connected, locally and of course in a wider-scale right around NSW.
"The opportunities that present themselves as a result of that cannot not be underestimated.
"It's a great concept, it's working well and I look forward to seeing this one progress even further."
The modern facility provides access to the latest learning technologies, personalised support services and specialist teachers both on and off-site to help students become job-ready.
Minister for Skills and Tertiary Education Geoff Lee said the opening of the Scone CLC was part of the NSW Government's commitment to creating a better TAFE system across the state.
Since their announcement in 2016, the NSW Government has unveiled 14 of the new-age facilities, with a further eight to be delivered by March 2023.
"These CLCs are a fantastic opportunity to connect people from right around the state, people that can't be serviced by a traditional TAFE campus," Mr Lee said.
"Through the technology we can link together people and expertise in teaching right around the state so we can deliver programs which industry or the community needs regardless of their geographic distance."
Aged-care, hospitality and land and conservation management are key areas the Scone CLC will be focusing on.
The agricultural and thoroughbred horse industries will also benefit from the advanced technologies available at the new facility.
Scone's traditional TAFE campus at Flemington Drive will remain fully functioning, catering to the more face-to-face and practical courses although there is the ability to run certain aspects of each course from both sites.
Upper Hunter MP Michael Johnsen also confirmed Racing NSW's interest in buying the Scone racecourse and surrounding land.
"It is an exciting opportunity with Racing NSW buying that land and looking at further investment for training facilities and other opportunities for education," he said.
"And the TAFE site out there will play a critical role in working in conjunction with not only Racing NSW, but also the University of Newcastle who also have flagged they're intending on investing somewhere between $80 and $90 million over the next ten years in research and education in that facility.
"Of course at that facility we have a world-class Equine Research Centre itself so that whole education and racing and training precinct will fit in perfectly together."
To see the courses available for next semester at the Scone CLC visit https://www.tafensw.edu.au/clc/scone
These courses are in addition to what are still run at the main campus and next year this list for the CLC will expand to include a broader range of courses.