New jail excites TAFE

THE PROSPECT of a new 1000- to 1700-bed jail for Grafton has the Grafton TAFE campus excited about the prospects it offers.

Addressing the Grafton Chamber of Commerce breakfast meeting last week the North Coast TAFE's leader business and community Tania Williams said the organisation was already in talks with organisations involved in the facility.

The NSW Government has announced construction will begin on the new jail in 2017 for a 2019 finish on a site at Lavadia. The government says the project will be a private/public partnership with the jail to be privately run.

Ms Williams said the new jail offered two opportunities to the TAFE, firstly during the construction phase and then by offering education and training as part of prisoner rehabilitation programs.

Ms Williams said the prison system and the local TAFE campus had a long history of working together.

"The Grafton campus has delivered training within the correction centre as part of the training programs in the jail," she said.

"The new jail offers opportunities for TAFE to be involved from the ground up."

Ms Williams said the jail offered an added dimension to TAFE which was already providing training in construction in conjunction with the Pacific Highway upgrade.

"Building a jail is a different form of civil construction, requiring different skills sets," she said.

Ms Williams said the TAFE was also looking at how it could become involved in training inmates for the life after release.

"That's one of the things the business unit is looking at now," she said.

"Working in the conceptual phase is ideal as we can look at how we can innovate to provide training that will best help the prisoners in rehabilitation."

Ms Williams said TAFE did not want to overplay its hand in these early stages of planning for the jail.

"We are really just exploring the opportunities are the moment, but we're exciting about it," she said.

Ms Williams said Grafton TAFE campus was performing strongly despite big changes in the way it delivered courses.

"Only about 40% of our courses are delivered through the traditional classroom approach," she said.

"The balance are delivered online or through the workplace. We have to respond to what the market is looking for."

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