HUNTER students at TAFE NSW campuses will soon be learning under the organisation's third managing director in 10 months, after the current head Caralee McLiesh resigned.
Dr McLiesh sent an email to staff on Tuesday explaining she would leave TAFE NSW in July and take up a new role as secretary and chief executive at New Zealand Treasury, replacing Gabriel Makhlouf.
She had worked for NSW Treasury between 2008 and 2018 before joining TAFE NSW after the resignation of Jon Black last September. Mr Black took on the role from Pam Christie in December 2015.
"This is a particularly bittersweet moment for me given there is still so much more that I wanted to deliver for the customers and team of TAFE NSW," Dr McLiesh wrote in the email.
"However for various reasons this is the right decision for me and my family at this time in our lives."
Dr McLiesh said while she was excited and honoured to be selected for the new role, "I am genuinely sad to be leaving TAFE NSW earlier than I originally planned".
"I want to assure you that this change will not affect the implementation of our TAFE NSW strategy.
"In fact, just last week I spent a day with the Executive Leadership Team [ELT] laying the groundwork for an annual business plan.
"The work will stand TAFE NSW in good stead to deliver on important aspects of the strategy over the next 12 months.
"Our Minister is committed to continuing our important One TAFE modernisation reforms and our ELT is clear on our priorities and delivering on our plans."
NSW Teachers Federation Organiser Rob Long said teachers were "cynical about yet another change to TAFE".
"We're over it, there's no stability," Mr Long said.
"The students, teachers and local community need stability and we're calling on the Minister [for Skills and Tertiary Education Geoff Lee] to provide that.
"We would hope the government now realise they need a managing director that has a vocational education and TAFE background and an understanding of TAFE.
"We urge the Minister to completely rethink Smart and Skilled - it's still not working and we think that's the basis of instability. It was ill-planned, has not been implemented effectively and is not working.
"In the O'Farrell, Baird and Berejiklian governments we have had four ministers who come, get a feel and then leave. That swapping of chairs on a government level has not assisted students either."
A Hunter employee said staff were "bewildered" and the work environment had "gone past toxic, it's now soul destroying".
Shadow Minister for Skills Prue Car said staff had "been through the wringer" and Mr Lee had refused to rule out job cuts.
"We need motivated staff who feel supported so that they can be the best teachers for our young; unfortunately what we are getting with this government is a revolving door at the top, endless cuts and a concerted campaign to drive TAFE into the ground," she said.
Kerry Ponton will act in the role until a replacement is appointed.