TAFE reform delays 'unfair' on students

The federal opposition says students have been unfairly left in the dark about the details of Labor's free TAFE plan, as the government aims to finalise talks with states and territories.

In an attempt to address widespread skills shortages, ahead of September's jobs and skills summit, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese struck a $1.1 billion deal for the implementation of 180,000 fee-free TAFE places.

However, students have been waiting since the announcement to find out which courses will be eligible in 2023, something the opposition says is costing the country.

"Because of this mismanagement, Anthony Albanese's much-vaunted 'free TAFE training blitz' has left thousands of students behind and has not been in place for prospective students early enough to give them time to make informed choices about their future," deputy opposition leader Sussan Ley said.

"Unfortunately, many students that should be taking up training in these in-demand skills have already missed the opportunity to take up free TAFE courses and have locked in alternative study options."

However, the government says the national skills agreement needed reworking after negotiations under the coalition government broke down with states and territories earlier this year.

"Not one state or territory signed up to the previous government's skills agreement, with state and territory ministers expressing 'strong concern' and 'dismay' over the government's failure to genuinely negotiate," Skills Minister Brendan O'Connor told AAP.

Mr O'Connor said the department is in the "advanced" stages of its negotiations with states and territories and it recognises the urgency of the skills crisis facing the country.

States are set to finalise agreements with the government in coming weeks.