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Entrepreneurs in rural remote Australia receive $400,000 boost in ICT education support

Friday, 2 August 2013 | By Rose Powell

The federal government has appointed TAFE NSW Western as its “virtual advisor” to support entrepreneurs in rural and remote Australia to make the most of opportunities arising from the National Broadband Network.


The TAFE will create a stand-alone website of self-service resources such as videos and guides. They will also coordinate virtual one-on-one and group mentoring opportunities.


The program is especially targeted at Aboriginal entrepreneurs.


Jo Sedger, TAFE NSW Western’s director of learning and engagement, told StartupSmart the $400,000 program was a natural extension of their current work.


“The program is targeted at Aboriginal people working in small and medium businesses, and entrepreneurs,” she says.


“The training will help them to take advantage of the NBN as it rolls out across the nation. We already run online education programs for Aboriginal people in remote NSW, so it’s a natural extension for us.”


TAFE NSW Western has 7500 Aboriginal people studying with them every year. Of those, 4,000 study through a blended model of online and face-to-face education.


“A lot of people said Aboriginal people wouldn’t enjoy learning online and that they’d prefer face to face, but we’ve found a really high uptake of virtual learning,” Sedger says.


The courses will focus on equipping entrepreneurs with the IT skills needed to run a business, and include subjects on marketing online and search engine optimisation.


“Being an Aboriginal entrepreneur in rural and remote areas has special challenges such as isolation factors, lacking the opportunities to rub shoulders with colleagues in similar careers. Being able to create virtual link-ups for this will hopefully be very beneficial.”


While the NBN’s fate remains unclear with a federal election soon to be called, the TAFE has signed a three-year funding agreement with the Commonwealth and is confident it will see the program through.