SENATOR Matt Thistlewaite rolled back 22 years as he stood in a Macksville High school room today - and marvelled at an education revolution that was coming to be on the back of a $4.1 million investment in the Nambucca Valley.
Sen Thistlewaite said when he was at school - students who planned to be 'tradies' upped and left at the end of Year 10.
Yet this defied 'all the studies which show that the longer we keep kids at school the better the outcome for them in later life and the better the outcome for the economy', he said.
Describing it as an "educational dilemma", the Labor senator said the challenge was to keep students who were not interested in university study engaged in Years 11 and 12.
The Federal Government's response has been to establish trade training centres at high schools - and a network of these is now up and running in the Nambucca Valley.
Sen Thistlewaite was at Macksville High to officially open the Nambucca Valley Trade Training Centre.
Centres have been established at the three major high schools: Macksville (general construction), Nambucca Heads High (hospitality) and Bowraville Central (hairdressing).
* Full report and photos in next week's Guardian