The Pilbara's high costs and an inability to generate new revenue has been blamed for December's failure of a South Hedland technical college founded just six years ago with the help of the State's biggest resources companies.
Pindan College was already cutting back operations when directors called in administrators Jeff Herbert and Simon Theobald from PPB Advisory on December 3.
PPB has since closed the rest of the college and sold most of its assets to meet debts of about $1 million owed to 22 former staff and about 60 unsecured creditors, including WA's Department of Training and Workforce Development.
Pindan was one of 25 independent technical colleges established under a Howard Government initiative to improve trade skills and youth employment in the country's industrial and resources hubs. The colleges allowed year 11 and 12 students to undertake an apprenticeship while also completing their secondary school studies.
As the Australian Technical College Pilbara, Pindan opened in 2007 with seed capital and in-kind support from BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto, Woodside Petroleum and Chevron.
As part of its funding, the college was required to come up with a sustainable long-term operating plan to survive beyond the expiry of the Federal assistance. Pindan tried to boost student numbers by winning accreditation as a registered training organisation and moving to bigger premises in South Hedland.
However, PPB said in its report to creditors the relocation "incurred significant costs and materially reduced" Pindan's available cash. Funds were already being drained by "unsustainable overheads", the high wages and rental accommodation subsidies needed to lure staff to the North West.
Also, a "misunderstanding" resulted in the college overestimating by about $1 million the amount of Federal funding.Last June, Pindan was advised its funding would expire in December and a review found it was not viable. PBB has recommended the college be formally wound up.
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