STEVE Probert's business has boomed in recent months - something he attributes to a small business course he took at the Byron Community College last year.
From selling two types of home-made marmalade at the Community Centre's Saturday market, Mr Probert stepped up to producing seven different flavours, plus a range of relishes, hot jams and sauces he is supplying to local food outlets and a number of delis in Sydney.
Learning about the financial and legal side of a business, including viability and government criteria, made a huge difference to his approach, Mr Probert said.
Crucial skills he developed during the Certificate IV course were networking techniques and how to market a product through social media.
"The course opened all that up to me," he said.
Small business management is one of more than 130 courses outlined in the 2013 program - a cornucopia of educational opportunities in everything ranging from MYOB to Lawn Bowls for Beginners.
There are 20 new courses offered this year, five of them in cooking, such as Portuguese Cooking and one from Byron Shire News columnist Despina Petri titled Just Some of My Favourites.
Many other additions are in the visual arts and crafts category, where the Certificate III is always popular, said college director Richard Vinycomb.
Among the new courses are Making a Corset and Paper Collage.
The college prided itself on its broad appeal to the community, Mr Vinycomb said.
"It allows newcomers to get involved and gives people something to do."
Many of the courses were accredited, but the personal benefits to students were often just as important as the professional, Mr Vinycomb said.
"They have improved vocational skills, but our graduates also speak about how life has changed for them: they have greater confidence, relationships are better and so on."
The courses on living and working sustainably included classes on keeping chooks, but the concept had moved beyond backyard gardening to inform all of the teaching programs, including Mr Probert's small business course.
"We are now seen as a role model in Australia in sustainability education," Mr Vinycomb said.
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