SIGN UP for our newsletter ✉️ :

Get the latest stories delivered straight to you

Fee-free TAFE demand soars as skills shortage targeted


Fee-free TAFE enrolments have topped 214,000, soaring past the initial 180,000 target six months earlier than anticipated.

The care sector is the biggest winner, with more than 51,000 students, or about a quarter of all enrolments.

Construction attracted almost 21,000 enrolments, technology and digital scored almost 17,000 and early childhood education and care almost 12,000.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese called the numbers "a terrific achievement".

"One of our major commitments from the jobs and skills summit was delivering free TAFE places to train, retrain and upskill Australian workers," he said.

"Fee-free training offers a huge cost of living relief for students, grows the recruitment pool for businesses and eases the skills shortages that hold our economy back."

Women made up the majority of enrolments with more than 60 per cent and more than a third are in regional areas.

The enrolments include 15,269 people with a disability and 6845 Indigenous Australians.

The federal government has committed $414 million for a further 300,000 fee-free TAFE and vocational educational courses from January 2024, with next year's tranche of places to be announced in coming weeks.

Skills Minister Brendan O'Connor said the government would work with states and territories to address shortages as they work through the five-year National Skills Agreement.

The shortages affect almost a third of jobs on the 2022 skills priority list.

"Fee-free TAFE is the spark that is igniting a renewed sense of optimism and potential in our vocational education and training sector and I'm looking forward to building on our success," Mr O'Connor said.